The souls have departed. And, following 33 hours of travel, my BFF (along with her alebrijes by Alberto Perez and the Xuana family, a traditional black and white rebozo, bottle of Del Maguey mezcal from Chichicapa, several bags of Conchita chocolate, and a fabulous mohair rug woven by Antonio Ruíz Gonzalez), has returned home to the frigid climes of Alaska. However, gal pal, souls, and the mortals with whom we shared the past, have left warm and lasting memories. They have also left an exhausted gringa, whose brain feels like one of those overloaded small trucks one (more than occasionally) sees on the roads here. With every nook and cranny filled, they move at a snail’s pace, be it along a pot-holed dirt road or the carretera, balancing their top-heavy loads.
Our week began on October 29, when the sounds of a band Pied Piper-ed us down the street and around a corner to a comparsa of high school students, who were taking part in a competition of using recycled products for their costumes and floats. Alas, the rains came and eventually chased us home.
On October 30, delectable dining (lunch at La Biznaga and dinner at Los Danzantes) nourished multiple museum visits and allowed us to join the standing-room-only crowd at the Oaxaca Lending Library (without rumbling stomachs) to watch the wonderful new documentary, La Festividad de los Muertos, chronicling Day of the Dead in Teotitlán del Valle.
Then there was Thursday, the 31st…. A shopping expedition for flowers, sugar skulls, bread (pan de muertos), and two 10-foot long stalks of sugar cane to form the arch over my altar. I carried them the 10-blocks home on my shoulder (sheesh, they are heavy) and carefully navigating the busy sidewalks. According to BFF, I provided pedestrians and passengers in buses,cars, and taxis much entertainment. I didn’t see a thing — I was just trying not to trip, fall, or whack anyone in front, behind, or to the sides of me!
Once the candles, photos, bread, chocolate, beverages (cervesa, mezcal, and water), and meaningful objects to our departed were in place; flowers arranged and cempasuchitl (marigold) petals scattered; and the arching sugar cane affixed to the wall surrounding our ofrenda, we made our way down to the beginning of the CEDART comparsa.
Later in the evening, we drove up to the panteón in Santa María Atzompa. Passing the bright lights and crush of food, flower, pottery, and other vendors that line the entrance and finally emerging from under the arched gateway, the candlelit ethereal beauty of the cemetery on this night never ceases to take my breath away. Of course, it wasn’t all exquisite and unearthly enchantment. This is Mexico and so there was also a (very loud) band and the cervesa and mezcal flowed freely. I’m sure the difuntos (deceased) enjoyed themselves and partied hardy with the living until the sun rose. And then all slept.
On the other hand, we left at a reasonable hour, as we were only at the mid-point of our Día de los Muertos marathon. More to come…
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