Friday, October 31, 2008

Mexican Chilly

I have been freezing my ass off in Mexico City this past week. Temperatures are in the low 40s or upper 30s but the problem is there is no heating anywhere inside. I am staying with the Enchiladitas all the way up in the suburban mountains, where it is even colder. I'm hoping Oaxaca will be a little milder. 
In the meantime, the screenings for my short have been mostly delightful. One woman retold me my entire film ("and then the niece knocks on the door, and then the uncle opens the door..."), while another left me a note informing me that I am a genius (I'm having it framed). Some people have approached me with their take away and it is always very satisfying to get the audience's reaction, good or bad. 
But today I am looking forward to my trip to beautiful Oaxaca, Oax. where I am spending the Day of the Dead weekend. I'm looking forward to lots of magnificent eats, to strolling around that beautiful city, to perhaps visiting the ruins at Mitla and/or Monte Albán, to more magnificent eats at the restaurants and the markets, to visiting the cemetery tomorrow night and see the families communing with their dead and creating their gorgeous altars. 
Day of the Dead is a beautiful tradition in which you celebrate your lost ones by spending some quality time with them at their final resting places. You build an altar for them that includes their favorite foods, drinks, pastimes, and you cover it with cempazuchitl, an intense yellow flower that is typical of this day. My good friends Claudia and Josslyne actually make altars at home and apparently there is a magnificent altar now in display at the Zócalo in the Historic Center. Meanwhile, food shops display colorful sugar skulls with your name on them, or you can eat Pan de Muerto, (Bread of the Dead!) with a nice hot chocolate. 
This contrasts sharply with Halloween, which is about scary and mindless fun.  In the Mexican Day of the Dead, the dead are not scary, but wistful and fun.  Although Halloween has made deep inroads here, thanks to that poison known as marketing, people are aware of both. I frankly wish that in the school of the Mini-Enchiladitos they would acknowledge the Day of the Dead as well. 

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