WALKING AROUND the downtown plaza on a lovely, cool, October afternoon today, I noticed these windows across the street and their Day of the Dead banners.
Yes, the Day of the Dead approaches. It’s when we celebrate dead people, most of whom hereabouts are found in cemeteries, just like where you live.
This will be my 15th Day of the Dead, or Los Muertos as the natives call it, and it’s changed quite a bit in that time, mostly for the better. Every year a tianguis, which is a street market, comes to the downtown plaza. My first year, in 2000, it was poorly organized, butt ugly, and included lots of five-and-dime junk. That’s changed.
Now it’s nicely organized, covered by a uniform tent all around, and most of the junk is gone. Artisans from all over our state — and beyond — come to sell stuff, and lots of that stuff is creative and beautiful.
The primary draw, of course, is not the tianguis but the eerie, candlelit night in the cemeteries, which can be quite moving and incredible if there aren’t too many tourists underfoot. Best to choose your cemetery with care.
Our town is one of Mexico’s primary tourist destinations for Los Muertos. With luck, it will be a raging success this year because the merchants need that. We’ve had a bad rep for years, due to the dumb U.S. media* bludgeoning us on a regular basis because of “narco violence,” most of which does not affect tourists in the slightest.
But it’s hit tourism hard.
Narco violence, such as it ever was, has pretty much vanished. The touchiest times occurred about five years ago hereabouts, and a year or two ago there were problems in remote, rural areas of the state, but that’s blown over too. You’re safer here than in most of the United States today. Believe it.
But our reputation lives on, sadly. And the U.S. media continue to misrepresent and harm us.
Yes, most of the dead are in the cemeteries, and you will not be among them. Not horizontally, at least.
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* The U.S. State Department is no better with its warnings issued by clueless officials who’ve obviously never set foot in our tranquil, picturesque area.