Friday, November 02, 2007

Dead Head

It's Dead season around here, and I'm lucky to have a 6-year-old son who can show me the ropes for some of the more key traditions. First: chocolate. Oaxaca is known for its chocolate factories, and they hit full hum around Muertos. The chocolate is other-wordly--perhaps that's why it's put on altars. At the factory, you can see the cinnamon, chile powders, nuts and such that they add to the various flavors. I also love to see the mole sauces, many made with unsweetened chocolate and ground pumpkin seeds.

We had a feast at Max's school. It was very challenging to stop myself from eating a mountain of tamales, pumpkin in cinnamon sauce, arroz con leche, homemade chocolates, and fresh tortillas in mole. All of this at an elementary school party; it really puts my old days of hot cheetos and Hawaiian punch to shame.

There was a calaveras poem contest where the children had to write about their dead selves. Although it sounds macabre, the children find this practice very entertaining. Max: Habia un calavera Maxito, quien fue bien chiquito. Tuvo un gatito que tambien fue calavercito.

Oaxaca is trying very hard to woo tourists back and had many extra frills for Muertos this time around. The zocalo was the stage for a series of altars, each representing different regions. And there was a giant sand tapete, essentially a brilliant painting done in sand, flowers, seeds, and glitter, depicting Frida Kahlo, in the grand Municipal Palace.

We made visits to a couple of cemetaries and set up an altar for Jenny. I made sure it has popcorn and Mayordomo chocolate. Max added an orange and marbles. The cemetaries were filled with families and flowers, orange and maroon, flickering candles, copal incense, little framed pictures of saints, and children drinking soda and running around the gravestones.

Riding the bus home last night, I thought about how I have happened upon one of the world's most beautiful places, at one of my favorite times. It's such good fortune that I sometimes feel as if I am rising out of my body, like I can't quite touch the ground. Jenny called it "living life like you're in a movie", and she was right.


Hola, I'm JMac: said...

wow. I love reading of your adventures! I hope you're taking tons of photos to share while I'm up here freeing my caboose off! I've been thinking of you lots and it's so great to see Mexico through your eyes. Thanks ;-)

Hola, I'm JMac: said...

um, I meant "freezing" not "freeing" ha ha. I'd be "freeing" if I were south of the border! xoxo