Dia de los Muertos

Trip Start Sep 10, 2005
Trip End Apr 27, 2006

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Thursday, November 3, 2005

Hope you all had a great halloween. I spent my last few days in Oaxaca, getting a better understanding of the day of the dead celebrations here. I'd like to say it is comparable to halloween but i found more similarities to christmas. The town started gearing up several days ago. The tourists decended on the town in droves (mostly obnoxious americans!)

Many of the big markets and street side venders are selling all kinds of dulces. Lots of coconut, and nuts, sugared fruits, and sugar sculls. Each shop created its own alter with skeletons and candles and tons of flowers, mostly marigolds. The town of oaxaca has parades up and down the streets all day long. The kids dressed up in costume, but mostly in 'dead' type costumes, skeletons, devils, vampires. We didnt see any sponge bobs or spidermen!

The similarities to christmas are that every family has their own altar that they make in honor of their family members who have passed. And each one has different elements according to the tastes of the person who died and every year the altar looks a little different, just as our christmas trees change and get added to every year. Each family creates their own special mole sauce, just as we have our own special way of making turkey, for instance. Good mole has up to 20 ingredients and takes days to prepare. I have tried the restaurant and homemade versions...very different!! Homemade is much better, smoother, like velvet on the tongue, and never bitter.

There were several free events happening throughout the city, including a ballet, a culture and dance presentation. We went to a play called Don Juan Tenorio...and it was okay...but the theatre was awesome. My friends and I decided to take a tour (in a yellow Volkswagen convertible bug)of several cemeteries in the area. The San Miguel Pantheon (cemetery) in the city was interesting as it had tombs built into the wall and they were all lit with candles. We went to Xoxocotlan (pronounced ho ho for short)and although there were a thousand tourists there, the mood was undescribable. Family members were eating and talking and singing and sleeping next to the graves, even lighting fireworks for their loved ones. I have never seen so many candles and flowers in one place.

Afterwards we had a tradition oaxacan meal consisting of pan de los muertos, hot chocolate (the chocolate is very different here) tamales and chicken with mole wrapped in banana leaves...and lots of mescal!

spanish is going okay...mas o menos....but i learned one word you might find interesting...adolescencia means adolescence. The verb is adolecer...which means to fall ill, to suffer with.. how appropriate, don't ya think?

also, when someone sneezes, you say "salud", if they sneeze again, you say "dinero", if they sneeze a third time you say "amor".

oh yeah..and i found out i HATE papaya!!

okay--all for now--i am making my way to northern Guatemala via San Cristobal a las Casas and Palenque.
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