Visit Mixquic for Día de Muertos? Not with us!
I love love love Day of the Dead, it is my favorite Mexican festival and sums up what I most treasure about Mexico’s attitude towards life and death. However, I loathe and despise going to Mixquic for Muertos. Even 20 years ago it was a giant tourist festival, with the locals being a very small minority and masses of people from Mexico City and other countries coming in to watch the few locals celebrating their dear departed ones.
To really feel Dia de Muertos, you need to go where the outsiders are the small minority, where the vast majority are the locals having their very personal interaction with their dead. We can do that, but not at Mixquic.
Until just a few years ago, Dia de Muertos was not much celebrated in Mexico City any more. It used to be celebrated primarily in smaller cities and indigenous villages, but then international tourism began to get more and more attracted to this festivity and the city began to do its own Muertos activities. These are public events, exhibitions and parades, and then it all exploded with the James Bond movie Spectre, and still more with the movie Coco. Now the city puts on the parade just like in the movie. Parades are fun and the art exhibitions are beautiful! We enjoy them, even as we keep in mind that these have little to do with the very personal and intimate tradition of welcoming back your beloved, of celebrating their memory and your love for them, for a little while each year.
Dia de Muertos and Halloween are not at all the same thing. There is nothing scary or spooky about Dia de Muertos. But scary and spooky is also fun, and Halloween is a great festival! These represent polar opposites as far as the relationship that we the living, establish with death. Death as permanent companion to life, and Death as the terrifying end to life.
While you are in Mexico City, we aim for you to see and feel the vibrant chaos, the cacophonic symphony of colors and sounds, the unending efforts of people to live full, creative lives and to resist pressures of all sorts to turn us all into docile, unquestioning sheep. We will not show you a rosy-colored exotic country, nor the paralyzing drama of helpless poverty — both of these are creations of the system and by no means describe what is happening. Rather, we seek to expose you to a small part of the many-sided reality that is neither black nor white, neither evil nor good, always evolving, always alive.
We are interested in contributing to an encounter between you and what is going on around you, for you to go beyond the surface to the reality that is unseen or ignored by the media, and by the powerful. Beyond the surface, real people find ways to survive and grow. Here you may find great aggression or great warmth, but you will always find creativity.
In your time here, we hope you will perceive the ways that people live, so different from your own ways but made understandable by your guide. We hope you realize that there are also other ways to BE, in your own places of origin.
In all our places of origin, we can find people modifying their world, confronting challenges with creativity and imagination and resisting injustice – always alongside the simultaneous and painful history of divisions and violence between allies and friends. Our offer is to open a window for you to glimpse the specific experience of Mexico, very close to and yet very far from your own world.
I am happy and excited to start a new chapter, that of blogging. Most posts will be short and sweet, like today’s. But I warn you that the NEXT one will be looooong as I share with anyone interested, the philosophy which guides my work at Journeys Beyond the Surface.
Usually I will be sharing my little daily discoveries with you, the unexpected adventures that happen as I wander around, near and far. One constant in all my adventures, is my bolsa de mandado, my Mexican market bag. Cheap, machine -made with plastic threads, widely available, so very durable, the bolsa de mandado is my versatile and hard-working companion, every day. And so, when friends urged me to start a blog, I knew that this was the image that best represents my journeys: my beloved bolsa de mandado.
I hope you will join me!