Oh ~ a last comment to Lugg about the marigold field pictures: We saw scads of wild marigolds blooming as we zipped past them in various public conveyances, but only one field of cockscomb being harvested.
As a matter of fact, yesterday did not deliver as planned. In fact, when it was over we deemed it a nice day in the country with a side helping of marigolds.
The game plan for October 31 was to visit three cemeteries and to check out what else might be going on in three different towns. As it played out, if any real action went on in the cemeteries, it would have been much later than we were willing to stay around, because of the problem of getting transportation back home.
We started out at my friend's house, which is about 15 minutes on foot northwest of Santa Maria del Tule.
We later went on to Tlacolula, which I got to visit last year with Htmb and Kerouac, and to Mitla, a Zapotec town and important archaeological site -- all shown on this map:
The scene a few yards from my friend's house. The yellow in the field is wild marigold ~
After a pleasant walk along a disused railroad track that has been converted into a bike path, we reached the El Tule cemetery ~
This Louisiana girl was happy to see chrysanthemums incorporated into Mexican day of the dead decorations ~
Two nice old guys told us that this giant ahuehuete is a baby of the famous one in the town center ~
The date on this tomb was 1920 ~
Deep shadow and bright sunshine were features of all the cemeteries we visited yesterday ~
This is the first of two graves I saw yesterday that might have been designed by mickthecactus ~
What a lovely reminiscence, Huckle ~ thank you! There is more to come, although I'll try to keep it to a low roar on the many cemetery pictures. We're off to Zaachila today, in hopes of more rustic Muertos pleasures.
Meanwhile, yesterday in the center of Mitla ~
Note the very different designs on the pan de muertos, if you've seen the day of the dead reports from the city of Oaxaca ~
It was a long ride back from Mitla to the baseball stadium in Oaxaca, where the collective taxi let me off.
Walking home from there, I passed through Plaza Carabal, part of which was shown in the first part of this report. Right now it's hosting a Feria de Pan y Chocolate, which is proving quite popular. There was a comparsa forming up, alas in an area too dark for good pictures ~
The Feria features everything connected with bread and chocolate, including molinillos -- the wooden implements for whisking hot chocolate to a froth. This man was making them on the spot, so I had a small one made for myself, shown here:
I was completely enthralled by the process of turning a single piece of wood into an artful implement with moving parts ~
That's such a lovely idea Mick. Fabulous Bixa loved your latest additions to this report. Yes re just do it . Hopefully this time next year I will be at least partially retired and just maybe . Such remarkable skill and precision making the molinillos. You have to show us it use if you get chance .
This is a wonderful report: I've just skimmed it and want to return before commenting much. Though I did get a kick about the macho luchador type with the image of the BVM de Guadalupe who had his back...
Speaking of handicrafts, can one still have huaraches made to order?
Thank you so much, LaGatta. I'm getting ready to go into self-indulgent overdrive, so be warned for when you return to look some more.
About huaraches -- I really don't know, but I imagine so. I came across an exhaustive blog about huaraches which you may enjoy perusing: huaracheblog.wordpress.com
Yesterday, November 1st, we continued our quest for DofD experiences outside the city by going to Zaachila. It is shown on the map at the top of this page, south and just slightly west of Oaxaca. This year was hot and bright, a big contrast to last year when the three anyporters got caught by a rainstorm.
One of the reasons for visiting Zaachila was to see their big comparsa, advertised as starting at 4 pm. After lunching on tacos, we strolled over to the empty arches of the municipal building to ask the cop there about the promised festivities. He'd heard nothing about it, so we milled around a bit, then headed to the cemetery in hopes that it would be somewhat different from others we'd visited. It was!
Yes, I know I said there wouldn't be too many more cemetery pictures, but as it turns out, I lied. That's why you have a scroll bar.
The municipal altar, honoring a local military hero ~
There are a couple of these trees in the main square. As far as I can figure, they originate from South Africa ~
So here we are at the cemetery, which at first glance is indistinguishable from others we've visited ~
But right away, a major difference is noticed: the place is full of elaborate, varnished wooden cross grave markers ~
The graves of little children are never less than absolutely heartbreaking in the face of the parents' loving and brave displays ~
In the past I've always come to Zaachila to go to market, but never just to hang out. What I discovered yesterday is that the town is just as friendly as it can be. People were unfailingly helpful. One lady in the cemetery came over to introduce herself to me and after we started chatting her husband wandered over to join in. One of the gravediggers took a shine to me, and nothing would do but that we have our picture taken together. It was a very social outing!
Some of the dead are peering over the wall into the cemetery ~
Your photos have not yet appeared but I clicked on the link and of course recognised the famous 'sausage tree' immediately. I have featured the flowers and maybe the fruit, in one of my Kruger reports. I am amazed they have made it all the way over to Mexico! There has go to be some explanation.
Wait! Here they are... Such fantastic colours everywhere. My thoughts are that the dearly departed play a huge role in the afterlife. Families care for the graves as a way to please the person lying beneath -the caring attention their family still gives them is incredible even if it is just once a year. Wonderful photos - glad you met some others who clearly appreciated your visit.
Thank you, Tod! I was hoping you'd see the tree and recognize it. Looking around on the internet, I now realize I've admired the gorgeous deep red flowers around here, but didn't realize that they turned into those weird sausages. There are many ornamental members of the Bignoniaceae family either native to or naturalized in Mexico. Those brightly painted red "gourds" shown on the previous page with the incense are a relative of the sausage tree, but their tree is the "calabash tree".
Tod, I think the beautiful part is that people don't think of the dearly departed as lying beneath the dirt, but rather off being happy in a special place. The cemeteries are hardly tended during the rest of the year. They are all fixed up now, though, because this is the time that the dead come back for their yearly visit. That's the reason for the nice grave sites and the altars holding the deceased's favorite food, drink, and even cigarettes.
The wonderful late afternoon light was going, so it's time for me and all of you to get out of this graveyard ~
As I'm walking out, this very different vase catches my eye ~
A last glance back before I exit into the art street~
This street is covered with Day of the Dead murals and sand paintings are under way ~
Kerouac, generally there are altar and sand painting competitions, although I don't know if that happened in Zaachila or not.
The overall organization of events this year was pretty annoying, although miraculously, printed schedules were available. The city of Oaxaca announced that the main cemetery was closed because of the earthquake. (Although they featured a picture of the main cemetery on their official schedule.) Later they said it would be open during certain hours. Nevertheless, all the fun graveyard activities were to be moved to the Xochimilco cemetery. Humph, and more about that in a bit.
Thanks so much, Mich! It's been years since I've gone to San Agustín to see the belled devils, so I was thrilled that they were in the inaugural parade. Over the years, that party has gotten lots of publicity. I talked to a friend yesterday who went and he said it was horribly crowded.
I think you're going to have to bring your feeties down here and have yourself fitted with huaraches. Everyone should remember that it is usually nice and warm here this time of year -- a good reason to come all by itself!
Moving along now. We left Zaachila and returned to downtown Oaxaca. Although it was early, Mexico turned the clocks back on October 28, so it was dark out.
We checked out the altar by the cathedral, now all finished and decked out ~
Potty stop at Café Brújula on Alcalá ~
Reading is apparently a pleasure that endures beyond the grave. Each balcony on the public library featured bony bookworms ~
This reader is so awed by the giant Catrina that she lost her place ~
Inside the library, a number of altars representing the different regions of the state were featured. Quite honestly, the drama of the colored lights lessened the enjoyment of the viewing and made it hard to get decent pictures ~
Okay -- admittedly the colored lights worked out very nicely on the overhead pennants ~
Your 20 years of experience have honed your eye. Every one of your photos seems to me to be the best it could possibly be.
You've shown us a lot of new things this time around. The marigold curtains were new to me and it's a pleasure to see marigolds singly rather than massed.
Does anybody else here smell marigolds when you see these pictures?
Glad to see reading is making a comeback, at least among those with a lot of time on their hands.
About the belled men, I'd think that 40# is a lot of extra weight to carry. I notice some guys have fewer bells on their vests. Newbies? Or old-timers grateful to hand the heavy lifting over to the younger guys?
The molinillo video amazed me. You've made me thirsty for hot chocolate, but the weather isn't right yet.
Glad to see reading is making a comeback, at least among those with a lot of time on their hands.
That took me a moment!
The bell costume guys didn't have their capes with them on this occasion. They frequently sport floor length capes that are completely covered with mirrors -- the one to two inch round kind. When you see them shift those things back up onto their shoulders, it's obvious that they weigh a ton. Looking at some of the middle-aged bell devils this year, it occurred to me that they were probably some of the same whooping teenagers I'd seen at my first day of the dead. Seeing those guys dancing for hours back then, and continuing to do so as they moved from town to town in the hills all night long, I often suspected there was more than a little use of marching dust to keep them going.
Captivating report, as always. You always manage to see something new every time. I, also, want to add my voice to those who hope to be there in person one day. I have to say, though, my two-year-old daughter would be pretty freaked out. She's kind of a nervous nelly.
The care and love that goes into the decorations is touching. I especially admire the marigold curtains and the sand paintings. I got choked up seeing the graves belonging to little children.