Skeletons and Jazz

I will say “Happy Halloween to all of you,” but here, we are celebrating Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead.) The actual holiday isn’t until Wednesday, but at Teca Once we already held a special evening to celebrate. Pat Wright set up tables for us to use as our “ofrenda” where we put pictures of people we wanted to remember and honor. That evening, we took turns telling a story or memory about one of our relatives. We had pan de Muertos and hot chocolate, which are the traditional foods for the holiday, but we also had a variety of other treats. It was a fun evening. We will be leaving our ofrenda up until after the holiday so we can all enjoy it. To make it even more sweet, Pat said one of the men who works at Teca Once and one of the other long term guests asked if they could add photos of their own to the ofrenda. Of course, she told them yes. We loved that!

Pat Frandsen took this awesome picture of Ron talking about his grandparents and the next photo of our whole group.


The official Dia de Muertos parade for Mexico City was on Saturday. Here’s a funny bit of history about the parade. The opening scene of the 2015 James Bond movie Spectre took place in Mexico City’s at the Dia de Muertos parade. Ironically, Mexico City didn’t actually have an annual Dia de Muertos parade at that time--that was just made up for the movie. The movie was such a hit that the government decided to organize a parade. So in 2016, Mexico City had its first real life Dia de Muertos parade, and it has been a tradition which attracts locals and tourists ever since. We and the Wrights caught a bus to head to the parade, which was held early in the evening. A lot of the main roads were shut off because of the parade, so the bus wound around and didn’t end up at its normal stop. That was okay because we could easily walk from where it stopped to the parade route. However, the ride took longer than we expected, and we arrived after the parade had started. From our experience attending the military parade in September, we assumed there would be a crowd, but we’d still be able to find a spot from which we could watch the parade. What we didn’t realize was that the crowd for this parade would be about three or four times larger than the one in September. People were standing six or seven deep along the parade route and on every raised surface along the sidewalk. Some things in the parade were tall enough that I could see them over the crowd, but most weren’t. A guy was selling mirror periscopes, and Ron bought one for me. I could see a little better with it, but it was like watching the parade on a tiny TV. We could see just enough of the parade to tell that it was spectacular, and we wished we could have seen it better. Still, we had a good time. It was fun just watching the people. Many had their faces painted and were dressed up like Catrinas, elegant skeletons. Catrinas aren’t intended to be scary. They represent our dead loved ones who are able to visit us on Dia de Muertos, so dress up for the party. (Watch Coco to get a better understanding of it.) Not everyone dressed up, but enough did that you wouldn’t feel out of place if you did.



These people were smart and brought stools to stand on!


This cute little entrepreneur was painting faces and selling flowered headbands.
Ron trying to figure out how the periscope worked.
Chocolate skulls


We didn’t stay long at the parade because we had reservations at a restaurant. We met the Deavers and the Alsop’s niece there. We had a lovely dinner. Then we went to the Auditorio Nacional, where we met up with the Davises and Barnetts to go to a Wynton Marsalis jazz concert. The auditorio is a world class venue. They’ve held the Miss Universe pageant there, and one of the Batman movies had its premiere there. It holds 10,000 people, and it was almost full—only a few seats here or there were empty. The Barnetts are definitely jazz fans, and they got seats on row four. The rest of us were there for the experience and to try something new. We got seats about halfway back on the main level, and they were great. I don’t follow jazz, but Wynton Marsalis is a big enough name that even I knew who he was. When the concert began, the musicians in the orchestra all came out, took their seats, and started playing. During the song, several musicians were highlighted and had solo sections. I thought, this song must just be the introduction of the orchestra, and when its over, they’ll bring out Wynton Marsalis. I just assumed he’d be front and center on the stage. However, when the song was over, one of the musicians started speaking into a microphone. The cameras for the jumbotrons zoomed in on him, and I realized it was Wynton Marsalis--sitting on the back row with the other trumpeters! I was stunned. For the entire concert, he sat on the back row. He had a solo in a couple of songs, but so did others of the musicians. The concert was fun, but Wynton Marsalis’ behavior—just being one of the musicians and allowing others to have the spotlight and the music to speak for itself—won me over.

You can see Wynton Marsalis on the jumbotrons. The guy standing up is his translator. The empty seats in front of us filled up right after I took this photo.


We’ll be celebrating Dia de Muertos for the first half of this week, so I’ll probably be talking about it again next week. However, we have a big project we’ve been working on since the beginning of the year, and I think we’ll be ready to announce it by my next blog, so stay tuned!


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