December 11, 2019

October 31st

On October 31st, all of the “Day of the Dead” activities reached a fever pitch.  Our day started out with a children’s parade that went right past our hotel.  It would be one of many other parades that passed by in the next few days. 

Before joining in the fun, our group paid a visit to the nearby site of Atzompa, which is a sister site to Monte Alban and is visible on a nearby mountain top.  It is a lovely site on a hilly area, and is currently being excavated.  We were told that we were being watched by site caretakers the whole time we were there, and that if we took any photos of the actual excavation work, our cameras would be confiscated.  Nevertheless, here are some photos of the ruins.

After lunch, we had the afternoon free in preparation for our nighttime visit to the local cemeteries.  This was a wonderful opportunity to walk up and down the main street to view all of the altars to the deceased, indoors and outside, that the various organizations and businesses had created.  A funny note here—our Archaeological Conservancy rep, Jim, and his husband flew into Oaxaca the day before we all arrived to make preparations.  One of the things that they did was to visit numerous local shops to purchase small statues of us all to put on the hotel’s altar.  Keep in mind that they had never met any of us before, so they just used their intuition. Here is a photo of that altar with all of the little statues in front of it. 
 Here is the statue that they chose for me.  Ha!!! Looks like I am the hooker for the group.
Below are some of the altars that I visited in the neighborhood around our hotel.  Note the profuse use of marigolds.  Everything smelled really nice. 

That evening our group took a tour of 2 of Oaxaca’s older cemeteries.  The tradition is that the relatives of the deceased decorate the grave with candles and flowers, and sit there all night communicating with their dead relatives.  The food and drink that they bring to the cemetery is often shared with passersby. 

This was a real mob scene!  It was extremely crowded and pushing and shoving our way through the first cemetery was exhausting.  We then walked over to the old original cemetery, which was much less crowded and actually more interesting.   

On the way over to the second cemetery, the governor of the state of Oaxaca and his security team passed us going the opposite way.  What a fun night.  In a certain way, it was very stimulating being in the crowds of people all having a good time.