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CEA Students in Guadalajara Visit Cemetery

November 19, 2009
by CEA CAPA Content Creator
 CEA Study Abroad students recently observed a Day of the Dead celebration in Michoacán in Guadalajara. The experience proved both enchanting and spiritual. The Day of the Dead is a celebration in memory of loved ones who have passed away. The celebration takes place the night of Nov. 1, when people visit their deceased relatives, decorating their tombs with cempasuchitl flowers (the orange ones), gladiolas, tons of candles and whatever food their loved one may have enjoyed in life. This reverent ritual is a true representation of the fusion of two cultures – Spanish and Purepecha (Indians from Michoacán). In this part of Guadalajara, the Day of the Dead tradition has survived modernity and the day-to-day rush of Western culture. Our CEA excursion began at 1 p.m. as we headed to Quiroga. There we enjoyed Carnitas (pork) tacos and strolled the main street for souvenirs. Next we visit the Patzcuaro, where artisans from the state gather in the main square to sell their merchandise. You can find really unique pieces that have won national awards! A scoop of ice cream and a cup of coffee later, we decide we cannot leave town without a sugar skull with our names printed on the forehead! By 11 p.m., we head to Tzin-tzun-tzan, an ancient Purepecha kingdom and the first city to be taken by the Spanish. There we visit the cemeteries – all lit by candles. You can smell the flowers, candles and food. It’s strange to see a tomb where there is no body, while celebrating the return of the departed. We stroll around the graveyard, where some people sleep until 6 a.m., when they go to mass. We also visit the Yacatas ancient round pyramids, where we enjoy hot fruit punch and watch a festival with music and traditional dances. By 2 a.m. we’re sleepy and ready to head back home before we see something really spooky.
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