We took a bus from downtown Guadalajara to Tlaquepaque, an area which is known to celebrate Day
of the Dead in style. Tlaquepaque is a suburb of Guadalajara and its centre consists of an attractive area full of restaurants, galleries and shops.
Just off the dusty main road, we found ourselves on the main pedestrianized street leading to the plaza. We had already noticed alters that had been erected in honour of dead ancestors, colourful arrangements of sugar skull candies and various paraphernalia that had some personal connection to the deceased. Usually, in the centre of the alter, a photograph of the person is placed.
As we walked through Tlaquepaque, the alters became not only more numerous, but imaginative. A shrine to Steve Jobs was placed outside an computer store and there were several honouring Frida Kahlo. Looking at some of the alters was actually quite moving, the photographs especially adding a personal perspective.
Several face-painting stalls had set up and for a few dollars you could get yourself a skull face. Some of the artistry was really intricate and quite impressive. A female mariachi band played in the street, gathering a large crowd. The atmosphere was festive and upbeat.
We stopped for refreshments in the form of margaritas and nachos every now and again. The sun was hot and the streets that had been empty when we arrived were now crowded with Day of the Dead revellers.
It had been a dream of mine to visit Mexico during the Day of the Dead festivities for many years and the experience more than lived up to expectations. The colours and images of the day will always remain with me, but also the poignancy of the occasion. Mexican culture is unique in celebrating death in the manner that it does, but is all the richer for it.
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