We had spent 10 days along the western coast in PV, Sayulita and Bucerias and came home to the wondrous sight of marigolds and Catrinas!!! The town was decorated to the hilt and everyone was in a festive mood. Dia de Los Muertos was days away but it seemed like everyone expected it to descend in a few hours. We had been to a couple of small celebrations in the States and Glenn had been to one in Cholula years ago but nothing prepared us for our first as Mexican Residents.
We tried to see as much as possible, but the lack of a good schedule of events, which we continue to find to be the case, made it difficult. Whenever we go into the tourist office by the Jardin they seem to refer to the Que Pasa section of the Atencion newspaper rather than giving us good information. And looking for schedules etc. is hard to find on the Internet. So much seems to happen that we find out about later. There is a large poster of events placed in various sections of town, but once again nothing in depth. So we find we miss a lot. I guess we just have to get out to the Jardin and Centro more, especially at night, and stumble our way in.
Mexicans set aside two days to honor their dead. But in San Miguel the days surrounding those two days seem to take on a life of their own. As mentioned in our last post “Halloween in San Miguel de Allende” face painting was still in full swing. There were tables of artists set up all over Centro and peoples faces were being decorated in amazing ways. We didn’t participate in this this year but will definitely do it next. Our thought though was which day would we choose? If you do it just one day you have to take it all off to sleep. I don’t think the prices were so outrageous though that more than once would be out of the question. We are hoping that next year we have a few houseguests and we can all really let loose!! Sometimes the two of us are a bit too mellow by ourselves.
The 1st of November is for the lost children and innocents. It is supposedly the more refined and subdued of the two days. But, it is also the day when the Catrina/Catrin parades take place. We saw two of them. One departed from the same street of The Rosewood Hotel (Nemisio Diez) and left at about 6:30pm the other was the Rosewood Hotel Catrina parade at 7:45pm. Both were fabulous to watch but I think the first one was the better of the two for us. The Catrinas did not always parade through San Miguel, and we are not sure what the locals feel about the new tradition, but it did help to make San Miguel that much more special and we loved it. Because we were new to Dia de Los Muertos and San Miguel we totally forgot all about the Noche de Los Muertos!!! So we didn’t make it to the cemetery at night-time. We could kick ourselves for not realizing that it was on the night of the 1st, especially after seeing the fantastic photos afterwards. Next year we will not pass this up. I figure I just turned 60 so I have probably another 30 years to see what I missed this year.
November 2nd honors adults and elderly who have passed and was the day we opted to go to the cemetery. I don’t know what we expected, but we were truly blown away with what we experienced. This was one of the most amazing days we have spent in San Miguel so far. The color, sound and beauty of it astounded us. We started up the Camino Viego Al Panteon, leading from the Hotel Real de Minas in Colonia San Antonio (where we live), following hoards of people who were buying slews of marigolds and other flowers in between stopping to eat at the multitude of food stalls. So much activity was going on it was hard to chose where to look and what to capture on my iPhone. We were once again struck by how nice, respectful and friendly everyone is to each other and to us gringos.
The cemetery (Panteon de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) was a kaleidoscope of solemn mass, families and friends tending to grave-sites, mariachis serenading, little boys running around with water containers for flowers, incense and so much more. We spent a good amount of time there and could have spent even more except that Glenn was getting a tad hungry so we figured two hours gave us a good glimpse.
After a bite to eat we headed into Centro to hang out until another huge event of the day happened at 6pm. Mozart’s Requiem was going to be presented in the Parroquia free of charge to all who could fit. First come first serve.
So we had a bit under 2 hours to make our way to the old cemetery in San Rafael which is only open on the Day of the Dead. This cemetery had a completely different atmosphere than the new one we had just visited in San Antonio. Everything was somberly decorated in yellows, fuchsia, purple and black. And here is where we saw more of the little candy offerings that we had seen being sold in town. In and surrounding the church square were the altars (ofrendas) that we had seen so many photos of before. Unfortunately the location for these has been moved from the streets surrounding the Jardin, where they were in the past, so there weren’t as many as we hoped for. But the ones we did experience were very powerful and beautiful. One in particular that caught our eyes was in tribute to fallen journalists. All had loaves of the fantastic Pan de Dia de Los Muertos. Other items included bottles of tequila, tortas, candles, fruits, mirrors, personal items and the ever present marigolds. Anything signifying what the deceased enjoyed in life.
When we arrived at the Parroquia at 4:30pm we saw that it was already starting to fill up for the evening concert. Lucky us we got a seat about half-way down from the altar after being told that the closer seats were reserved. That struck us a weird because we had been told that there were no tickets being sold, which I guess was the actual case, but it sure did rub a lot of people the wrong way since there had been no information on how to acquire the closer seats. It all turned out fine in the end as the church became jam-packed with standing room only including in the main aisles. At one point they tried to clear them before the concert could begin but no one was moving so eventually I guess the consensus was go on with the show. And what an amazing event it was. The acoustics were incredible!!! The talent was exceptional!! And the evening was a treat. Everyone hopes that the show of support and interest evident in the number of attendees will mean there will be future events of this caliber available to all.
Dia de Los Muertos in San Miguel de Allende was a breath-taking, fantabulous time and we look forward to experiencing it again and again in the years to come.