While at the sanctuary I interviewed two monarch Sanctuary Guides for you, Eduardo and Lorena. I hope you enjoy seeing how some local people work with the monarchs!
Estela: Eduardo and Lorena, how old are you?
Eduardo: I am 25.
Lorena: I am 21.
Estela: How does it come that you are admitted to apply for the guide's course for the season?
Eduardo and Lorena: Because we are grandchildren of an Ejidatario; other than that, no one else is allowed to be a guide at the Sanctuary, only the wives, children or grandchildren of an Ejidatario.
Estela: Since what age have you been working as guides at the Sanctuary?
Lorena: Since I was 18.
Eduardo: Since I was 19.
Estela: Have you been working as guides every season since then?
Eduardo and Lorena: No, you can work one season, then pause the following for others to take a turn, and then, come back to apply for the season after. We all should take turns; it would be impossible to get a place for all members of families to Ejidatarios.
Estela: Are you single or married?
Lorena: I am married and have a three year old girl.
Eduardo: I am still single, and going a little bit beyond the average age to get married among my circle of friends! (laughing)
Estela: Lorena, what is the thing you like more about being a guide, and what is that you find more difficult, according to your experience?
Lorena: What I most like about my job as guide is knowing that this is the season when a married woman like me can get an income. My husband and I want to start building a little house, and were it not for this job during the season, where I make up to 150-200 pesos a day per tip, we would not be able to manage our plans for many years. So I wait for this time of the year with much expectation. Of course, I also like meeting so many people. Most of them appreciate our job very much, since they are curious about our life in the region, and the life of Monarchs, from which many aspects they do not know and we are trained with to let them know. I find it very difficult when I am assigned to guide foreign people. During the training course, we learn some expressions in English, but never enough to hold even a very short conversation, so it is very frustrating not to be able to say all what we want to.
Eduardo: What I love about being a guide is the fact that the whole region has a chance to make a living. Even the little children in our families, our mothers, who in other times of the year have no way to make an income, do it now during the season. I love meeting so many people, hearing how they assure to us that we live in a wonderful region surrounded by natural beauty. I love to experience the feeling of my whole community busy during the season, being aware of the importance of taking care of our forests to continue hosting the Monarch Butterflies, since this has brought a complete change to our lives, and future expectations. What I hate is that this is only a seasonal activity, and it only lasts 4 months a year, from December to March. Once it is over, most of us try to leave the region and go to the big cities to work mainly in the construction industry. Leaving our families and homes is something one can't get adjusted to. Our base salary (400 to 600 pesos a week, depending on which other responsibilities you get involved in during week days at the Sancturary, being a guard, cleaning up, taking care of the tree-nursery at the Sanctuary, cleaning up bathrooms, and giving maintenance in general) plus our tips as guides over the weekends, would allow us to make a fair living if the season would last the whole year.
Estela: How many children are there in your families?
Lorena: In my case only my husband, my daughter and me.
Eduardo: We are 12 children in the family. I am the oldest, and we are still all single and living with my parents!
Estela: How many times a day do you bring a group into the Sanctuary?
Lorena: The most walks I do a day as guide is only three.
Eduardo: I can make 5 groups a day and have done even six when there are too many people like in former years.
Estela: How significant do you consider the phenomenon of the Monarch butterflies in the region?
Lorena: Our parents tell us that we are the monarch generation in the region, since, since we were born, monarchs have been part of our lives, so we cannot imagine how our region was before Monarchs were discovered and "launched" to the whole world as a great phenomenon. We cannot imagine our region without this. The absence of monarchs every season among us would bring a terrible sense of solitude and despair about our own futures.