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Día de los Muertos

San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico


Day of the Dead turned out to be a bust. Not to the fault of Mexicans mind you. Movies always gave me the impression it was a wild street party with James Bond chasing a mysterious woman through crowds of dancing skeletons. So ol' Ryan started out the day like any other. Slowly. I got up by 10, showered and left the house by 11, finished breakfast by noon and then hit the road to visit a small town cemetary with Erika, the couchsurfer I was staying with.

By the time we got there, roughly 3, the place was devoid of all life, but not desolate. At this point I learn that Erika previously told me that Day of the Dead festivities start early morning and finish by noon. It's easy to misinterpret Spanish, especially if you don't want to get outta bed early the next morning. There was evidence all around of an intense morning bonding with dead and baring gifts of flowers, hoards of flowers, delicious treats for lossed loved ones and bottles of vodka shared with friends 6 feet under. When I got there the joint was empty. The deceased were back in bed for another 364 days of solitude. Meanwhile dogs meandered through the graves searching for remnants in bags of chips or uneaten fruit that the dead were too full to finish. But aside of us there wasn't a single other soul there. Well, I can't be for sure cause I don't have that 6th sense. But I imagine most of the dead were sleeping on a full stomache or passed out drunk.

The most modest of the graves had pine needles over the dirt mounds with flowers lovingly leaned against the headstone. The popular dead had mountains of flowers and beautifully multi-coloured wreaths that'd surely belittle Trudeau's funeral. The grateful dead just had roaches and friendship bracelets.


Later we headed on down to the church - and what a big church for such a small town. The floor was covered in the same pine needles as the graves while the walls were like a museum of porceline dolls standing inside luminated wooden boxes with glass windows. Please don't touch. Pray. Place a candle nearby, but please refrain from touching. Each box had a name of a saint, so you have your picking. Not a good place to pray for the indecisive. Or those like Sindy and Sherry who are afraid of dolls.

So at least I got to see the scene. Evidence gave me plenty of details, Erika some more and my imagination happily fills in the gaps. While I didn't see any dead out and about on la Día de los Muertos, I did get to get a makeover like a zombie a few days earlier on Halloween. Okay, a zombitch.

Not forgetting to buy some facepaint (which later turned out to be quite valuable) before, I met up with Erika at her friend Romeo's art exhibition. His vibrantly and beautifully coloured collages have heavy Catholic imagery mixed with gay culture and a plethera of penises. The religiously sensative will likely see it as a perversion of the holy, but I liken it to a fusion of that which is natural to Romeo and natural to others. The last supper with transvestites. A bearded emmaculate concepion with a halo of penises.


So here, at the exhibition, Fabien painted my face into a zombitch. You can't really tell the difference between zombies and zombitch. The secret is really who designs it. Fabien himself had fluffy ears, a leopard print blazer and cat tail.

I headed down to the pub a head of the flamboyant croud with a bunch of other foreigners and Erika. I was the only one with any sort of costume. As it turns out you gotta pay an arduous entrance fee if you don't have a costume, so happily outta my pants I whipped out my paints. Within 15 minutes we were all disguised and entered for free.


permalink written by  ryanmyers on November 16, 2009 from San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico
from the travel blog: Ryan's First Sabbatical
tagged DayOfTheDead and Halloween

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