El Día de los Muertos on Isla de Janitzio
Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
163Trip End May 10, 2011
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The excitement mounted as car and bus loads of tourists streamed into town. People filled their arms with marigolds and other flowers for the elaborate decoration of altars at homes and businesses or at gravesides. Church bells rang and large and small bands showed up all over town often with girls dancing in beautiful traditional dress and their hair in braids adorned with colorful ribbons. Their blouses and aprons exquisitely embroidered with bold flower patterns. At around 10 am, we hopped on a combi, one of the many transport vans, to the dock. We expected a long wait in line at the boats but we were able to get right onto the next boat leaving for Isla de Janitzio. We waited for 40 other passengers to board.
We purchased our ticket (6 pesos) to climb into the imposing 40 meter tall monument/statue of Jose Maria Morelos, a great hero of Mexico's independence. We take in the scene outside and started up an interesting conversation with a lone traveler from Santa Monica, California. Kelly has rented her house out for 2 years now and is traveling to interesting places around the globe while house/dog sitting. http://www.housesitmexico.com/ Kelly told us that she is writing a book that can be described as the "Eat, Pray, Love" of Politics, ... without the noodles. An interesting lady. I hope we stay in touch.
After our nice little chat, Dave and I entered the statue and walked along ramps and stairs spiraling to the top where a final 15 narrow steps took us into Morelos' right arm. The inside walls on the way are covered with 50 murals depicting the life of Morelos. At the top of the final 15 steps, we poked our heads, gopher like, out of slots for the spectacular 360 degree view. It took us 2.5 hours of standing in a slow moving long line to get our turn at the top. Most people took less than 4 minutes to see the view. We stretched that a bit.
With our feet back on terra firma, we doubled back down the hill to a restaurant that displayed great looking fish. It is the famous white fish unique to lake Patzcuaro. Michelle picked a big one and asked them to pan fry it, "dorado". It did not disappoint, it was delicious!
Further down the hill, at an outdoor basketball court, a local cultural event was in progress. The ninos (children) performed a dance about netting fish and giving them to the girls. Another dance featured the girls doing a traditional dance. At the edges of the 'stage' local foods and drinks were being made on the spot. One lady making the blue tortillas would slap the tortillas to form them. The slapping echoed though the stands. Her timing was good, because she started a round of applause for the ninos’ performance. She was oblivious and the crowed did not realize who had really gotten the round of applause going. And then it happened again.
The combi bus let us off near the plaza instead of inside it. The plazas were closed to vehicles and they were swarming with people, many with drinks in hand. Bands were playing. Any honoring of the dead for these partiers would be put on hold till later…