sometimes paradise is the day of the dead

The following video beautifully exemplifies the meaning and celebration of Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead. It is a 2013 CGI Student Academy Award Gold Medal Winner Short Film HD: “Dia De Los Muertos” from Whoo Kazoo.!!

When I moved to Mexico, I became enamoured with the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. Despite, its rather gloomy sounding name, Dia de los Muertos is a joyful celebration.! Family members and friends gather with food and drink to remember, honor, and pray for their deceased loved ones. Basically, they invite the deceased back into their lives for an annual visit.

The holiday is celebrated October 31, November 1st, and November 2nd and is tied to the Christian traditions of All Hallow’s Eve, All Saint’s Day, and All Soul’s Day. However, it also has origins dating back to the Aztecs and their worship of the goddess Mictacacihuatl or the Lady of the Dead. Modern Catrina dolls symbolize the Lady of the Dead. Special foods beloved by the deceased, sugar skulls, and marigolds are placed on makeshift altars in homes and cemetaries to entice the spirits of the dead to return.! Hanal Pixán, or Food for the Souls, is also celebrated by the Yucatec Mayans at the same time.!!

Typically, October 31st, honors infants and children, and is called Dia de los Inocentes or the Day of Innocents. While, November 1st, honors adults and is referred to as Dia de los Muertos. I believe the reason this holiday struck a chord with me is because I have lost my mother and my brother. When my brother passed away 18 years ago, it was such a traumatic experience for my family.

In the beginning, we used to buy him presents for Christmas and his birthday and leave them at the cemetary. We would also bring him a slice of birthday cake. It’s not like we baked a whole cake for him. My brothers were/are twins, so we were making one anyway. It was easy just to bring a piece to his gravesite too.

But I remember, upon seeing this grief and mourning activity from my family, my brother-in-law told us, “You and your family are very tangible mourners.” That comment always struck a chord with me because in my mind I could not understand another way to mourn. My brother had always been in my life, how could I now just stop celebrating who he was and what he meant to me.? I could not. Nor could I when my mother passed away six years later.

So, when I discovered that in Mexico there is actually a holiday that tangibly mourns, remembers, and honors their deceased – I felt like I had come home. I was actually living in a country that understood my grief and was not afraid of it. And not only that they understood, but they too called out to their loved ones. Even though I am no longer in Mexico, I will remember my family tomorrow. Tomorrow also happens to be my father’s 76th birthday. So I will also be celebrating my dad tomorrow.! But I will remember to leave an extra piece of cake for my brother and my mom at the table 🙂

Enjoy the video.!! And Happy Halloween too.!!

estoy camote.!!

As I have been super busy recently with my father – I thought we could revisit one of my favorite idioms from my time in Mexico. Especially since it translates to being busy 🙂 Enjoy.!!

howdoyousaytacoinspanish

camote or sweet potato courtesy of en.wikipedia.org camote or sweet potato courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

I love words and idioms and expressions.! And yesterday I realized that I had not yet introduced all of you to one of my favorite expressions from my time in Mexico.! So I think today is the day to make that introduction.! One day I was Facebook chatting with one of my male friends, we were bantering back and forth like a tennis match. But at one point, when he took too long to answer one of my messages, I sent him the following retort – “?????”. To which he replied, “Espérame, estoy camote.” Translation – “Wait for me, I’m a sweet potato.????” What.?!?

Apparently, in the Yucatán, if you are so busy that you are discombobulated or a little crazy, you can say “estoy camote” and it means “I’m busy”. It’s usually used by maseros or waiters when…

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sometimes paradise is maja’che….

tormenta

On May 5th, Playa del Carmen experienced a storm or tormenta. The winds came suddenly, furiously and fiercely.

tormenta1

Maja’Che is the Mayan name for sudden winds that can knock over trees. My very brave friend P., the photographer, took these amazing photos. There are also some videos – I’ll see if I can post them soon. Also, there were some lovely calm “after storm” photos I’ll share next time too 🙂

return of the prodigal daughter…

I guess February 17th is a special day in my existence. Three years ago yesterday, I returned from Mexico. And one year ago yesterday, I started my awesome job.!! Please take a moment to stroll down memory lane with me 🙂

howdoyousaytacoinspanish

chicago chicago

I cannot believe a whole year has passed since I left Playa del Carmen.!! One year ago on February 17th, 2013, I left Mexico and returned to my home in Chicago. The funny thing is that after almost three years living and working in Mexico, Mexico had become my home. In fact, those first few months back in Chicago, I felt like a foreigner in my own country.! I wasn’t familiar with any of the new tv shows. There was a plethora of new restaurants and bars in the city to make me feel like a social outcast.!! And I am always in the know about what’s cool and hip.!

I also felt out of step with the tenor and feel of America in general. Everyone moved faster, talked faster, and was busy with a million and one obligations. The laid back lifestyle I had enjoyed in Mexico dissolved…

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sale…vale…

Something light-hearted to begin the month with since May was so difficult. Please enjoy one of my earlier posts on the joy and confusion on saying “see you later” in Mexico 🙂

howdoyousaytacoinspanish

courtesy of bubblews.com courtesy of bubblews.com

Saying goodbye in Spanish is difficult. And I don’t just mean emotionally difficult where you do not want to leave the person or the country. Though that is hard to do.! And I also do not mean linguistically difficult as in the pronunciation is complicated. Though, in some instances that can be tricky too.! No, I mean saying goodbye is difficult in the sense that there are so many ways to say goodbye and most of the time I don’t know when to use which expression. As well as, sometimes the goodbye goes on for a rather extended period and I don’t know how to end it politely.!

Most Americans (and other Westerners) are familiar with adios and hasta luego. The former means ‘goodbye’ and the latter means ‘see you later’. However, very few times did I hear either of these expressions used. Hasta luego might…

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esos ojos

One of my very early blog posts about my visit to a coffee farm in Chiapas.!! Please enjoy while I’m still dealing with personal issues.

howdoyousaytacoinspanish

esos ojos

In March of 2010, I took my last class for my master’s program. Luckily for me, that last class was also a study abroad trip to Chiapas, Mexico. While we were in Chiapas, we learned about sustainable growth, indigenous rights and the history of Mexico. We met with many groups, toured non-profit organizations and visited some villages. And of course, we ate some great food – moles, tacos, chicken, etc. And we drank some wonderful coffee as there are many coffee farms in Chiapas.!

front

One of the villages that most stands out for me during that trip is Nuevo Yibeljoj in Chiapas, Mexico. The town is in the highlands of Chiapas and in 2010 had a population of 595 residents. The town’s inhabitants are Tzeltal or Tzotzil speaking indigenous peoples. Many of the residents have small coffee farms in what can only be described as their backyards. The town belongs…

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dia de los muertos 2

courtesy of beinglatino.us

courtesy of beinglatino.us

The following video beautifully exemplifies the meaning and celebration of Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead.

It is a 2013 CGI Student Academy Award Gold Medal Winner Short Film HD: “Dia De Los Muertos” from Whoo Kazoo.!!

Enjoy.!!