Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Grateful Dead: Part Two

El Panteón de Xoxocotlan, Oaxaca
The night of October 31st was the night in Xoxocotlan to illuminate the tombs of loved ones. The cemetery was aflame with candles of all sizes, and families camped out for the night around the tombs of family members who had passed on. There were tombs of all types, some rather elaborate
and others nothing more than a mound of piled up dirt for the many who could afford nothing more. They were equally beautiful and touching. I was invited to Xoxo with the owners of my apartment, Hector and Lulú. We arrived shortly after dusk and found the cemetery already aglow and many families already installed to pass the night with their loved ones. Despite the chilly weather, there was a feeling of warmth that permeated the cemetery. Marigolds and Cockscombs were everywhere, illuminated by candles of all sizes. I felt as if I had passed through a thin veil that separated reality from otherworldliness, not sure which was which! It was truly magical.

At one end of the cemetery was an enormous stage set up for the concert by Juan Casaos, a popular Mixteca singer, and La Banda Sinfónica Juventil of his pueblo in la Mixteca, a mountainous region of Oaxaca.There were monos de calenda, giant paper maché puppets, spinning around the stage and young people performing danza folklórico to the traditional Oaxqueña music. There was no doubt that "los muertos" were having a wonderful time, going back to their tomb for a shot of mezcal and then back to the concert to join the festivities! Just goes to show that there are advantages to being dead!

Magos hererra
The evening of November first there was a special concert by Magos Hererra, a Mexican jazz vocalist now living in New York. She just happens to be one of my favorite performers! I thought I had died and gone to heaven!! Magos and her group performed outside on a very chilly Oaxaca evening to a full house. She encouraged us to applaud to keep warm, and we did.
She  herself wore a pancho given to her by Chavela Vargas, one of Mexico's most revered musical divas, who passed away in 2012. This concert was a special offering to Chavela. Magos was accompanied by a very talented group of musicians from DF (Distrito Federal). A superb performance despite the cold that kept the string players rubbing their strings to keep them tuned properly.
How was I able to get photos so close up? No security thugs guarding the stage, no check for concealed weapons at the concert site. Just a lot of good people celebrating Día de los Muertos and enjoying the incredible cultural richness of Oaxaca.

Santo Domingo
After the concert I walked to La Iglesia de Santo Domingo, a few hundred meters away. I arrived just in time for a light show projected on the facade of the church. Apparently the concert was not enough! ¡Qué chido!

My altar for Marie, minus the mezcal glass which I drank!
I went home at midnight, sensually saturated, poured myself a shot of mezcal, and one for Marie, and went to bed. I was literally "Dead tired"!


jlm said...

awesome! please continues to press the shutter button my friend - Big hug and bises from Brittany :-)

Arun said...

Thanks, DIck, for that wonderful commentary on Dia de los muertos celebration in Oaxaca. I am on my trip and had some time libre so it was great to read it on the Veterans Day.