Unlike cemeteries "State Side" where the ground is flat (for easy mowing) cemetery plots in Mexico are mounded - in fact, it is said that the better cared for the rounder they are! Families tend to the eternal resting place of their loved ones in preparation for this one night every year when the veil lifts and the souls of the departed are free to visit with the living.
On the night of November 1st, 'festivities' for the Dia de los Muertos begin in earnest. Families have been preparing for weeks mounding the dirt, cleaning grave sites, scrubbing tombs, building alters that are piled with candles, sugar skulls and offerings of the dead person's favorite food and drink.
Passing by on the highways and city streets by the truckloads, marigolds are everywhere. Known locally as cempasúchil this was the flower used by the Aztecs to remember the dead. Some people grow their own but most are purchased from stands and trucks. Grave sites are blanketed with marigolds, as their color is said to help guide souls to their homes and altars.
The five islands have their own Dia de los Muertos festivities and can all be reached by boat; either small, covered ferries operating on a regular schedule or by much smaller, independently operated skiffs that hold up to 8 people, are open to the elements and not for the faint of heart.
I think they are right. Our western culture treats death as terribly tragic yet grieving and sorrow are private emotions (and somewhat shameful) that never go away and really shouldn't be discussed. A person passes on and all that remains are photographs. Small children grow up knowing very little, if anything, about their recent ancestors because there are no regular family gatherings where the departed are celebrated. It's sad really, and such a huge loss of family culture and tradition.
A bientot mes Amis,
|These little fish called charales are a local treat and absolutely delicious fried|
Mexico Cooks by Cristina Potters
National Geographic - Dia de los Muertos
About Education - Day of the Dead
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