Don’t hate me (yet)! I really haven’t forgotten about all of you!
As you likely know, we moved into our new house on Sept. 1. Very exciting! So far we are loving it, although we have experienced some minor inconveniences and misunderstandings. Fortunately, there were easy fixes. I’ve posted some photos of the house for you here.
Finally a taste of local culture!
I finally had a chance to see some local attractions. Last night, I went with my friends Brenda and Brenda (mother and daughter), and their friend Bellia to watch the Paseo de las Animas (the walk of souls) in downtown Merida. It was quite interesting and insanely crowded.
We got into the spirit by dressing in traditional dresses and making up our faces in the style of La Calavera Catrina, a figure reported to guard the bones of the dead.
From there we drove downtown to the cemetery, or at least, close to it. Well, not exactly. It was quite a hike to the cemetery — 30-40 minutes, I’d say. If we had gotten there earlier, we might have been able to go in. Alas, we didn’t arrive until about 7 p.m., which meant another wait for the procession to start.
The procession was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Around 8:30 it finally started. I was totally amazed by how many people took part in the ceremony. The ceremony represents the souls that are expected to visit on this year’s Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). If you’ve seen the movie Coco (see trailer here), you have some idea about the significance of the celebration and the concepts of death and dying celebrated in Mexico.
The traditions include the assembling of alters of various sizes with each level depicting a different stage — smaller alters (2 levels) represent heaven and earth, while larger, 7-level alters represent the necessary steps to get into heaven. The alters are often decorated with photos of loved ones who have died, their favorite food and drink, and flowers and seeds. They can be simple or ornate, large or small.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people participated in el paseo, which took a full 45-minutes to pass.
When the last carriage went by, we joined in the procession and walked with the crowd down to a plaza where there was music and some videos. It was nice to sit after being on our feet for so long!
Of course, at the end we had to find where we had parked the car! No easy feat, but thankfully the Brenda’s are “pros”! I got home finally about 11:30 p.m., tired, but very happy that I finally was able to experience some of the local cultural events.