Seriously, forget Halloween. Stop dressing your kids up as Batman, princesses, and butterflies. Stop going to strangers houses and begging for crappy candy that your soon to be fat kids really don’t need. Get your ass down to Mexico instead for the celebrations of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of The Dead)!
This year I got to experience both Halloween and Day of The Dead. My first day of being homeless again was on Halloween. While running all my last minute errands around town, I loaded my pockets with crappy candy that I really didn’t need and headed to Denver. I was expecting a fun night out on the town. Boy was I disappointed. A bunch of lame, non-scary, outfits sat at the bar watching the equally lame sport of baseball. Most of them staring at their cell phones, having no fun at all. I knew that it was time to hit the road again.
After a delicious breakfast of steak and eggs and vodka at the Timberline Steakhouse at Denver International Airport, all free courtesy of my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, I hopped on United flight 1944 for the three hour ride to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
After successfully avoiding the hoards of time share salesmen and taxi drivers, I crossed the highway and hopped on the local bus to Sayulita. This would be my home for the next week or so. Casa Yaka, owned by a good friend of mine, was under renovation but plenty comfortable enough for me. And the price couldn’t be beaten!
With some leftover pesos in my pocket from my last time here, my first priority was to get a belly full of tacos. Tacos Del Ivan at the bottom of the street probably has the best tacos in Sayulita. Oh yeah, there are no bad tacos! Four of them washed down with a large glass of horchata, and I was ready for a quick siesta. Then it would be time for the nighttime festivities of Day of The Dead began.
At night the streets were alive with all kinds of people ready to celebrate death. The main plaza in town was the place to be. With free concerts, colorful makeshift memorials, tacos and bacon-wrapped hot dog vendors, I was in heaven. All surrounded by lots of colorful people consuming lots of ice-cold cerveza
AftersSeven tacos, six cervezas, and a bacon wrapped hot dog for dessert, I was ready for bed. I knew the following night would be an even bigger celebration.
And I was right. November 2nd really made November 1st look like a practice run. A lot more people, many more colorful outfits, and mucho mas cerveza!
The night began with a wonderful show of traditional Mexican dancing on the stage in the main plaza, along with some great salsa bands amongst many other interesting acts. But this was all just a warm-up for the final event of the evening, the mariachi procession to the cemetery.
Guided by the light of a few tiki torches, the mariachis played their hearts out all the way to the cemetery. Not far behind was a large procession of beer drinking Mexicans. I think far too may people witness events like this through the screen of their smartphones and actually miss out on the real event, just so they can show their friends on Facebook where they are. At this point, I put the camera away and used my hands for a much more important task, beer drinking!
The cemetery was already full of people paying their respects to past members of their family, even though it was midnight already, quite a sight to be seen. The mariachis marched up through the maze of elaborate tombstones and began playing to a crowd of around a thousand people. After almost an hour of playing I began to realize I had underestimated my beer needs and was close to running out. Seriously, it’s midnight, I’m in a cemetery. I thought a six-pack of cold ones would suffice. How wrong I was !
As the band played their last tune, I finished my last beer and had hands free to take pictures again. That’s not the easiest thing to do at 1 am in a cemetery with no lights. As soon as the mariachis finished, another group of locals took over with some wonderful drum beats and dancing.
By 01.30am it was time for the stumble home to Casa Yaka. I bypassed the numerous taco stands still open and headed up the hill to house. I thought that mariachi music was still ringing in my ears. But low and behold, the same band from the cemetery was now playing for my drunken Mexican neighbors right at the bottom of my driveway.
I soon realized I wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon. After weaving my way past the twelve members of the band,I quickly ran inside to get the one last Pacifico I had in the fridge. I settled in on the neighbor’s doorstep for another hour of amazing Mexican mariachi music. Around 2.30am I was seriously contemplating a quick run to the 24hr Oxxo store nearby for another six pack. Luckily the band announced and played their final song, so I stumbled back upstairs and went to bed.
After a fun-filled first few days in Sayulita, I now think I understand a little more about Day of the Dead. It generally refers to how you are going to feel the next morning after partying with a bunch of Mexicans, like death!!