Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Altars of Dia de Muertos in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Each year I head down the hill and for sixteen years, I've never seen the same altar from previous years. Every year is something different and unique.

The creativity and artistic endeavors of this country never cease to amaze me.  One feels the spirit, the
pride, the dedication and caring of each grain of sand, sawdust, seed or actual grains used in many of
the depictions. The teenagers participate as well as people of all ages.  It warms your heart, to put it mildly.

Yesterday my purpose was to photograph the parade of kindergartners who were to be dressed up
as catrinas and catrines.  Supposedly they would arrive in the jardin around 11AM.  No kids were
to be seen anywhere, at least not in a parade.  Many of us waited patiently - me til noon and then gave

What did happen in the period from 10AM until noon was a bevy of activity.  It had rained the previous
night so everyone was behind schedule to get started on their altars.  Carrying flowers, seeds and all
the necessary items to create the altars, it was like a bevy of ants building a mound!

Here are a few of the photos taken yesterday that show the activity, the method of construction, the materials used and the touching tributes to those who have passed.

              The fragrance of the flowers could be experienced all over the jardin.  So lovely.

                                       Heading to an altar being erected in the bandstand kiosk.
     An old man worked and worked and worked to cut, and tie together palm fronds to make an arch.  Eventually it was erected .
                                                  The beginning of what would be a large altar.
                           Focusing on the seeds to fill in drawings that would be used in the altar.
 This teenager was so focused.  The mandela was made from rice and black beans.  She used
a credit card to make sure the edges were perfect.  I watched her for at least ten minutes. She
never looked up but continued to bring this beautiful piece to perfection.

     Here's another young man working on a mandala, but he is using a squeeze bottle to layer sand in various colors.
 A lady who was photographing asked me what this was.  I told her that the carpenters save their wood shavings and sawdust all year for this day.  It is then given to be used for the altars.  This has all been dyed.
I would have liked to see the finished product.  However, it rained again last night and it is doubtful there
are altars left in the jardin today, sadly.
                                                                Aren't they cute?
                                                  A lady here in San Miguel who passed this year.
 This altar stopped me dead in my tracks.  It was made my the man who used to sell newspapers next to Sara who sold drinks at a booth in the jardin when I first came to town.  Each year he has remembered Sara.  Here his wife is putting the various elements on the altar.  Each time she put an item down, she made
the sign of the cross and then set it down.  In amongst the photos, I saw a photo of Shanghai who was one
of the characters who used to sit on the bench with a hat on that said "Apartments for rent".  Yes, he had
several in town.  He was one of those "one of a kind" people that you delight in knowing.
 After knowing him for several years, I found out he had graduated in the first class of law students from the University of Houston with a friend of mine, Racehorse Haynes.  I so, so miss all the characters who have
passed on like Shanghai, whose real last name was Smith;  "Old Joe", Bryan who owned a bunch of hotels at one point and on and on and on.  Ahh, the stories and people are what make this town so rich...and so interesting.  Each and everyone in the past and currently is a treasure.


La Tejedora said...

Barbara, I always love your articles. Thanks so much for this. xoxoxoxo Nora

Babs said...

Thanks Nora! You're so thoughtful to take time to comment.....

Peter Kouwenhoven said...

There is so much beauty in your town, every day there is something special going on. Great pictures, thanks for sharing...

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic posting! I was inspired to create a little altar out here in the campo honoring those who came before me and now have left this plane. Nothing fancy but I'm beginning to "get it" in the interior spaces. Thank you.