The Day of the Dead Ladies of Puerto Vallarta

As I went through my photos for today’s post, I noticed that almost all of the human size sculptures were women. I wonder why?

The Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos, is a seriously fun holiday in Puerto Vallarta and throughout Mexico where the dearly departed are celebrated with hopes that the celebration will help them on their journey. People dress up in dead-people skeleton costumes, altars are established, and special foods are prepared. Gaily decorated skulls and skeletons are everywhere. Peggy and I have yet to be in Mexico when the event takes place (which is at the end of October/beginning of November), but the skulls and skeletons are still around, lots of them.

The skulls seem to represent both sexes equally, although this one seems to have a feminine cast to it. The gold teeth made me think of the dentist’s chair, a place I am all too familiar with. Ouch!

Of the life-size sculptures, I photographed, I could only find one man. This led me to speculate, naturally, as to why. I don’t think there is a reason particular to the holiday. About an equal number of men and women die, right. So is it that the girls dress up prettier, or that their eyes are more beautiful, or is it some other attribute, like the colorful bosom of the top photo.

Obviously, clothing is important, and you can do so much more with hats!
And certainly this woman with her red flowers and curls is well-dressed.
The hat and the boas lit up the lady from an earlier year. But what’s with the dead roses?
The eyes have it here…
And here. Same girl dressed up differently it would seem.
Remember the Red Hat Ladies. How about a long necked Red Hat Lady?
This gal had something to say. But I am not sure you would want to hear it.
Here was my only large guy sculpture. I had to go back in time to find it.
Smaller sculptures are found in the shops, often representing Huichol art.
Another example but probably not Huichol art since it is lacking in Huichol symbolism. (More on this in a later post.)
The red fingernails were a nice touch.
Peggy and I were walking down one of Puerto Vallarta’s road and came on this lady walking her dog.
And then there was this tile of a man out walking his dog— a dog that has a mission on its mind. Humor is an important part of the Day of the Dead.
Here’s a lady monkeying around.
A lady on a tile…
And a lady on a dish. Once again, the hat is an important item of clothing.
Skulls are found just about everywhere.
And are creatively decorated, with clouds, for example.
And with hearts.
You could have your kitchen decorated with Day of the Dead tiles. Maybe even peace symbols.
The Huichol have their own versions…
I conclude my Day of the Dead collection with this fellow. Just possibly, he had imbibed a little too much Huichol peyote!

NEXT POST: I am back on the PCT making my way between Carson Pass and Sonora Pass.

Folks in Puerto Vallarta Take the Dead Seriously… Sort of

Catrina hound in Puerto Vallarta Mexico

The charming Catrina has come to symbolize the Day of the Dead. Each artist creates his or her own version. I thought the heart and flowers added a special touch.

Come November 1st, people in Mexico prepare to entertain their dead ancestors. El Día de los Muertos, or, the Day of the Dead, has arrived. Home altars are set up; special foods are left out for the dearly departed; and people get ready to party with grandpa, even though he is no longer around. Why not? If you’d been moldering away in a grave for twenty years— or even a day as far as that goes, wouldn’t you be ready for a little fun, a bottle of tequila, and a six-pack of cerveza?

From a more serious perspective, the Day of the Dead allows people to get together and remember friends and family who have passed on. The tradition dates back to the ancient times of the Aztecs. More recently, the Catholic Church adopted it, as it often has with indigenous beliefs, to expand the flock and keep them faithful. The government, in hopes of promoting national unity, declared the day a national holiday.

Not far behind the church and the state, Mexican businesses quickly figured out that El Día de los Muertos was a cash cow waiting to be milked. Almost any market you enter in Puerto Vallarta offers Day of the Dead items for purchase. Among the most popular are skulls.

Skull art found in Puerto Vallarta.

Skulls are found for sale everywhere in Puerto Vallarta. This fine example is a from Oaxaca. The shop person told me that all of the paint brushes used in Oaxaca art are made from human hair.

Okay, this skull is wild! The art is created by laying lines of beads into wax, a process used by the Huichol indians.

Okay, this skull is wild! The art is created by laying lines of beads into wax, a process used by the Huichol indians.

Skull art found in Puerto Vallarta.

Ceramic skulls are much more common in markets, and much less expensive.

An army of skulls found in the Municipal Market of Puerto Vallarta.

An army of skulls found in the Municipal Market of Puerto Vallarta.

Miniature box art for the Day of the Dead found in Puerto Vallarta.

Miniature box art also captures the spirit of The Day of the Dead. This is a scene in an auto mechanic’s shop. Everyone, it appears, is having a good laugh. Maybe they are discussing the bill.

Dealing with the spirits of the dead is worldwide. When I was a little boy growing up next to a graveyard and sleeping outside in the summer, I encouraged our three cats and two dogs to sleep on the small cot with me. They were my protection from the denizens of the dark. It didn’t matter that there was barely room for me. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, I quickly learned that the spirits of the newly dead were particularly dangerous. An all night wake, with lots of rum and much wailing, was required to send the restless spirit on his or her way. My first night in Gbarnga, I heard people screaming and beating drums without a clue about what was happening. It was a long night.

We arrived in Mexico a few days too late to rub elbows with the dead, but we ran into Catrina in a number of locations. This lovely skeleton-woman with her stylish look and clothes has come to symbolize the Day of the Dead and Mexico’s willingness to laugh at death. She started off in the early 1900s as something of a satirical comment on Mexico’s one-percenters of the time, and their desire to wear the latest and most expensive of European fashions. She served as a reminder that regardless of our social status in life, we all end up in the same condition: dead. I salute the people of Mexico for their sense of humor about the subject.

Judging from the number and variety of Catrinas we found, I surmised that Puerto Vallarta's visitors bureau had sponsored a Catrina contest for the Day of the Dead.

Judging from the number and variety of Catrinas we found, I surmised that Puerto Vallarta’s visitors bureau had sponsored a make your own Catrina contest for the Day of the Dead.

We found this Catrina with her frilly hat at the Municipal Market.

We found this Catrina with her frilly hat, hot pepper necklace, and cactus blouse at the Municipal Market.

We found this realistic Catrina at the same location in the Municipal Market on a previous visit to Puerto Vallarta.

And this realistic Catrina at the same location in the Municipal Market on a previous visit to Puerto Vallarta. Note the snazzy ear rings.

I wondered if this blond bombshell with her generous boobs wasn't a Marilyn Monroe Catrina.

I wondered if this blond bombshell with her generous boobs wasn’t a Marilyn Monroe Catrina.

I don't think I have ever seen a plunging neckline plunge this much.

I don’t think I have ever seen a plunging neckline plunge this much. And isn’t the red hat something! I’m thinking this lady is someone’s Valentine.

A Huichol artist worked on creating a Catrina in one of the shops we visited.

A Huichol artist worked on creating a Catrina in one of the shops we visited. I added my pesos to her tip jar and snapped a photo.

Miniature Catrinas, such as this one, and their male counterparts are created to sell to people who don't have have room, or the money, to buy a big one. Many are quite beautifully made with fine attention to detail.

Miniature Catrinas, such as this one— and their male counterparts, are created to sell to people who don’t have the room or money to buy a big one. Many are quite beautifully made with fine attention to detail.

The Puerto Vallarta airport featured a number of Catrina's, including this one.

This gal greeted us at the Puerto Vallarta airport as we were flying back to Oregon.

 

NEXT BLOG: “Want to buy some junk? Almost free.” words of a vendor as we passed his booth. The markets of Puerto Vallarta carry everything from tourist trinkets to valuable folk art.

A miracle of the modern culinary arts: the self stuffing turkey. Happy Thanksgiving. The turkey above is from one of the cards I used to create before writing and blogging took over my life. While we celebrate family and friends here in the US, I also want my friends in Europe and other parts of the world who have suffered so much recently to know that my thoughts are with you. Every day. –Curt

A miracle of the modern culinary arts: the self stuffing turkey. Happy Thanksgiving.     The turkey above is from one of the cards I used to create before writing and blogging took over my life.    While we celebrate family and friends here in the US, I also want my friends in Europe and other parts of the world who have suffered so much recently to know that my thoughts are with you. Every day. –Curt

 

 

 

 

 

The Day of the Dead… A Brief Interlude

Day of the Dead skeleton in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

This girl was all decked out for the Day of the Dead

It’s the Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos in Spanish. My blogging friend, James at Gallivance, and Google inspired me to post my favorite Day of the Dead skeleton as a quick break from my kayak series. (I’ll get back to kayaking in my next blog.)

Peggy and I found this beauty at the public market in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The purpose of the day is to remember friends and family who have passed on. It’s big in Mexico. And Mexicans have made a fortune in selling representative statues to tourists.

Today, Día de Muertos is a Catholic festival, but it owes its beginning to the Aztecs. People often take the favorite foods of the deceased out to the gravesite so the dead person can feast. Got to keep those ghosts happy. Trick or treat comes to mind.

May all your ghosts be happy ghosts. –Curt

A popular restaurant in Puerto Vallarta features these to singing cuties on its balcony.

A popular restaurant in Puerto Vallarta features these two singing cuties on its balcony.

A side view of my favorite. Check out the earrings!

A side view of my favorite. Check out the earrings!