Celebrating Life, Death & Rebirth in Mexico

Every year, at the beginning of November, something extraordinary takes place in many areas of Mexico: Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities. While it may seem ghoulish to gringos that “death” and “festivities” can go hand-in-hand, for most Mexicans, it’s very natural. The dead are not remembered or commemorated. Instead they are considered present.

We will make our home in the historic centre of Mexico City. For a week we will enter the world where Mexicans celebrate with their beloved dead. We will learn how they prepare, what they do and why, and how they return to ordinary time when the spirits go back where they came from on November 2nd.

 

Celebations in Mexico City

 

Cemetery on Day of the Dead, MexicoDuring the days leading up to Day of the Dead, we will pop into markets and visit public squares and cemeteries to see the extent of preparation. In the cemeteries, families arrive early in the day laden with brooms, buckets, flowers, candles, favourite food and drink of the dead, and everything else they need to set up their ofrendas (altars) on top of the graves. Each is different, and some are stunningly creative.

During the two days of celebration we will join in the merriment. We will follow a parade of catrinas (Mexican characters dressed as “elegant death”). We will join one of the street parties taking place throughout the city. We will attend traditional Day of the Dead vigils in two special locations in the southern part of the city. Family members, wrapped in heavy blankets, sit around eating and drinking tequila, chatting about the departed and singing their favourite songs while children play between the graves.

We will visit a museum featuring the works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and learn about their fascination with death.

We will read and discuss the works of two extraordinary Mexican writers, much concerned with death—Juan Rulfo’s legendary novel Pedro Páramo and selected poems by Octavio Paz, one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.

No words, no picture can do justice to describe the beauty, the tradition, the feeling of Día de Muertos.

Click here for a detailed itinerary.

 

“[T]ime is transformed to a mythical past or a total present; space, the scene of the fiesta, is turned into a gaily decorated world of its own; and the persons taking part cast off all human or social rank and become, for the moment, living images.”

– Octavio Paz, “The Day of the Dead”

Image credits: Celebrations in central Mexico City: nmarritz on Flickr; celebrations in a cemetery Tomascastelazo on Wikimedia Commons

Overview

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Destination
Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende


Dates
October 26–November 4, 2017


Readings
Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo and selected poems by Octavio Paz


AccommodationZocalo Central Hotel, Mexico City and Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende


Leader
Melanie Blake leads tours for Classical Pursuits. She discovered the poetry of Octavio Paz through the great Mexican mystic Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and has long admired Paz's seemingly boundless curiosity and imagination. She looks forward to being in vibrant, elegant Mexico City with you.


Fees
US$3995 per person based on double occupancy
US$4990 per person based on guaranteed single accommodation
US$250 taxes and gratuities per person

Fee includes guides, readings, accommodation, most meals, wine with dinner, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, and admissions.


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