As a South African, Halloween is not a tradition we celebrate, although I must admit the trend is changing quickly over the last few years. But now, living in Mexico, I found myself slap bang in the middle of a three day festival;
Mexico not only celebrates the normal Halloween like we see in the movies with kiddies trick or treating, and pumpkins galore but they also pay respect to their dead. It is not wild parties, zombies fests or freak shows but instead it is a celebration done with passion, pride, humility and a huge amount of respect to those that have passed on. I never realized the true meaning until being a part of it. What a fabulous and interesting experience.
October 31st, 2016
Benito Juarez Park was abuzz with food vendors selling traditional day of dead dishes, children’s art competition, art exhibitions portraying the dead, and several altars paying tribute to personal loss. There was a live show (free of course) depicting the Mayan traditions of respecting their dead and paying homage to them. But the best part was the hundreds of children running around in the most fabulous costumes trick or treating; even the sudden flashes of rain did not deter them.
November 1st, 2016
Tour of the Mayan graves in the municipal graveyard – my favorite of the three days. It was a wet, rainy and eerie evening, a perfect setting to walk upon and among the graves of the dead. It was very crowded so we could not see much of the skits that were performed at certain graves; however, the organizers did a superb job of placing actors dressed as ghosts standing rigor mortis like on the spot. At first, we were not sure if they were real people or not and stared until we notice the chest breathing. I think if the actor had made a sudden movement I would’ve had a heart attack and made use of one of the graves.
There were also actors skulking around as if they were apparitions.
The rain added much dramatic irony to the event but again did not deter or ruin it for the spectators.
At the Benito Juarez Park, the celebrations, and live show continued as they did on the first evening.
November 2nd, 2016
Paint your face and run for your life; a 2 km, family fun run on the Malecon.
The quarter moon squeezing between the clouds as the sun set placed a certain ambiance for the participants as if a zombie truly would jump out of a grave.
After the fun run; the celebrations and live show continued at the Benito Juarez Park as they did on the first and second evening.
A while ago I did an article on a local graffiti artist Efors (read it here), and he is one of the artists, so naturally I am biased and hoping he wins. The artists were meant to be finished by the 28th October, and the judges were going to announce the winner on the 2nd November, on the final evening of the celebrations, but due to the days of heavy rain, the competition has been extended. The artists can now complete their work, and we wait with bated breaths to see who wins. Every piece is fabulous; these artists are truly extremely talented. As soon as the results are in, I will let you know.
So from my family and me, I thank the people of Cozumel for always raising the bar to my expectations. My first Day of the Dead celebrations has been wonderfully memorable, and I intend to celebrate many more with you.
Photos courtesy of Mik ‘n Drik Photography
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