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Día de los Muertos [Day of the Dead]

Updated: May 11, 2023

Día de los Muertos 2022 – Sayulita, Mexico

Al pastor taco spits are sizzling. Corona Light beers are cracking. Young men on motorbikes roar through the plaza to impress their Latin lovers. There is an older woman making crêpes in the corner. “Nutella con fresa por favor,” I offer in Spanish. [Nutella with strawberry please.]

Trumpet and violin notes waft on the wind in the crisp November night.

In the center of the bustling square, a young father teaches his five-year-old son how to move to the music, their feet dancing in unison along the cobblestone streets.

Ofrendas, catrinas, and indigenous batucada drummers swirl around the evening.

Fireworks dance across the darkness after a midnight mariachi march to the local cemetery—a colorful display to culminate Día de los Muertos—Day of the Dead.

I was brought to tears multiple times during this extravagant Mexican celebration.

My girlfriend and I have called Mexico home for three years. This was our third time experiencing the richness of this multi-day festival, which celebrates, honors, and mourns the memory of loved ones who have passed from this life into the next—so as to never be forgotten.

We are outsiders to be sure—immigrants in our adopted country—searching for a slice of happiness we couldn’t find in our birthplace. We try to respect this land and its people as best as we can. Sometimes I wonder what Mexico would be like had it never been infiltrated by outsiders. But then, I am reminded how truly special it is to be able to rejoice in this culture as an outsider—a culture which, in my opinion, is unrivaled on a global scale.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of this world, and while it has proven to be my greatest teacher, I have yet to be moved as much as I am while living in this country. Yes, problems exist here; and it would be naïve to dismiss them simply because they haven’t happened to me. My experience is not the experience of the whole. But, what a treasure to be able to witness, firsthand, the traditions teeming around us.

I can’t imagine a world where an outsider isn’t deeply moved by this country’s heritage and values.

I can’t imagine Mexico wanting to keep this a secret for themselves.

Mexico is a gift that needs to be reveled in by all. This is an undeniably special and unique culture that needs to be shared, cherished, and written about for the entire world to see—so as to never be forgotten.

Because I can’t imagine a world as beautiful and brimming with life without Mexico leading the way—teaching us how to dance along the cobblestone streets at midnight on a cool November evening, while honoring that which can be seen, and that which cannot.

Muchas gracias por todo, México. Te amo y te necesito. Tiene mi corazón.

[Thank you for everything, Mexico. I love you and I need you. You have my heart.]

Y uno mas crêpe por favor. Con todo.” [And one more crêpe, please. With everything.]

Copyright © 2022 Ryan Crain


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