When I was in my second year of uni I was given a book for my birthday called ‘Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth – A Rough Guide To The World‘. It was a travel book unlike any other that I’d read — instead of just showing you popular destinations to visit, it featured experiences and events from around the world that simply had to be seen.
Boasting ‘1000 ultimate travel experiences’ over 600 pages it’s definitely a monster. I found myself passing every spare moment flicking through the pages with a cup of tea, marking page after page, mentally adding them to my future travel itinerary.
At the time I was dreaming of graduation and the epic travel gap year that my flatmates and I had planned, in its entirety, in our heads!
Alas, that gap year didn’t happen but the dream of experiencing the Day of the Dead in Mexico never went away.
So when The Unicorn and I were looking at honeymoon destinations in the run up to the wedding Mexico was right up there on my wish list, not least because we knew we wouldn’t be able to go right after the wedding (financially and because I have ginger skin, meaning Mexico in July was out!) so we were looking at October/November time.
Suddenly, a visit to Mexico during the Day of the Dead festival was a real possibility and as soon as I told The Unicorn about my *huhum* obsession *huhum* (yes I have a sugar skull tattoo) she was totally up for it too!
All I can say is it was totally worth the 6 year wait! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…
IT WAS AMAZING!
The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos in Spanish, is a celebration of life not death as the name suggests. Mexicans believe that during the festival, the souls of their dead relatives and loved ones can come back to visit, which is where the Ofrendas come in.
Ofrendas are essentially private altars that family members set up to entice the spirits to come back. They are adorned with candles, incense, flowers (usually marigolds) and the favourite food and drinks of the departed, including the essential Pan de Muerto (which by the way is delicious!)
Many families set up altars at home or at the graves of relatives, but we saw them in bars and restaurants, in public spaces, church yards, at the side of the road and even on the underground (metro)!
We used the Metro to get around the city most of the time, which was an experience in itself as it seemed the regular metro users weren’t used to seeing white people (least of all a white lesbian couple) riding the metro! So we had a few gawpers, but apart from that, it was fine — hands down the cheapest and safest way to get around the city (though it’s not recommended to ride the metro at night as a white foreigner).
The Unicorn speaks Spanish too and had been to Mexico before, so she was our secret weapon. It meant we were able to do things that were a little off the beaten track during the festival too, which was great.
Most of the pictures above were taken in San Angel, a beautiful, historical colonia of Mexico City. Every Saturday the Plaza de San Jacinto holds an art bazaar but during the Dia de los Muertos they turn things up a notch…
We had a really great day exploring the markets and taking in the atmosphere, and while there was no huge street parade or procession like the one in James Bond, there was plenty going on all over the City and I definitely want to go back and do it all again!