Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Parade that I Did Not Attend

This afternoon Mexico City's Day of the Dead parade was held.  Last year's parade was cancelled due to the pandemic, but the city government claimed that this year's was going to be bigger and better than ever.  In spite of that, Alejandro and I had no intention of attending the parade.  Standing in a crowd of people for hours... even if we were outside and even if we were wearing masks... did not seem very safe to us.  Even if there had been no pandemic, I would not have been keen on attending.  

Since the annual parade was started in 2016, it has grown in popularity, and the number of spectators has increased.  I saw the parade with Alejandro in 2017, and we had a great time.  In 2018 we took my friends Nancy and Fred.  We enjoyed it, but we had to stand and wait for a long time in order to get a decent spot along the street to view the parade.  When the parade was over, there was a mad crush of people.  In 2019 I attended a couple of the preliminary events.  I stood waited along Reforma for more than two hours to see the Procession of Catrinas, but midway through the procession, there was a downpour and I had to run for cover.  I did not bother to attend the main parade (which also had a downpour).  There were an estimated two million spectators for that event.

So instead of going to the parade, we watched it on television.  The government said that the spectators should keep a safe distance.  Ha!  On TV we could see that people were jammed together as always.  People in the crowd who were interviewed said that they had been waiting since early morning.  And although most people were wearing facemasks, there were some who were not. 

I tried to take pictures of the parade from the television screen, but they did not turn out very well.

Admittedly, watching the parade on TV is not the same as being there, but I was sorely disappointed in this event that was touted as the best ever.  Alejandro was of the same opinion that it was not nearly as good as in previous years.  I'm glad that we did not make the effort to attend.


Something Different for Dinner

 I love good Mexican food, but sometimes I need to take a break and have something different.  Fortunately, Mexico City is very cosmopolitan, and there are many different kinds of restaurants and cuisines from which to choose.

Alejandro and I noticed that there was an Indian restaurant just a couple blocks from my apartment.  The place is called Restaurante Dawat, and it must be fairly new since I do not recall seeing it before.  We were the only ones there, but we arrived around 5:00... in between the mid-afternoon mealtime and the later supper hours.  We had a table next to an open window, and our waiter wore a facemask, so we felt at ease dining there. 

We both ordered mango lassi... a tasty beverage made with mangos and yogurt.  As an appetizer we had "paneer pakora", cheese coated with garbanzo flour and deep fried.  It was very good.

For our main course we each ordered different kinds of chicken curry.  Alejandro had something called "kadai" chicken, a Northern Indian dish with a slightly spicy, yellow curry sauce.  I had chicken "shahi korma", chicken in a mild, cashew sauce.  To accompany our curries we ordered lemon rice and garlic "naan" (Indian flatbread).

There was a lot of food here, and we alternated between our two curry dishes.  There was no room to even think about ordering dessert.  Everything was delicious.  There is an Indian restaurant back home in Ohio that I like, but this place is even better, and I suspect more authentic.  We will definitely come back in the future.


Saturday, October 30, 2021

More Along Reforma

 In my previous post I wrote about the "Mexicráneos" on display along the Paseo de la Reforma.  But the skulls are not the only attraction along the famous boulevard during the Day of the Dead season.

The median strip along the entire boulevard has been planted with marigolds (or "cempasúchiles") which by now you know are the most popular flower for the 
Day of the Dead.

The Monument to Independence, commonly called "El Angel" has been covered in scaffolding for quite a while for cleaning and restoration.  It is now standing proudly without the scaffolds, the golden angel gleaming in the sun, and planted all around it, of course, 
thousands of marigolds!

Along the boulevard there are larger-than-life statues of "Catrinas".

As in past years, there are numerous benches installed with a "Catrina" being courted by a "Catrín".

There is an "ofrenda" along the boulevard, but this one is not in honor of the dead, but in honor of the living heroes who distributed and administered the COVID vaccines.

I hope you are not tired of seeing marigolds (cempasúchil) because a stretch of Reforma on both sides is the site of a festival of flowers.

Vendors from nurseries throughout the city have set up stands selling live plants and flowers.

There is quite a variety of plants for sale.

But you know that the biggest share of plants here are marigolds!

Finally, the Skulls!

I wrote a couple of entries about my search for the "Mexicráneos", the large painted skulls which are displayed every year for the Day of the Dead.  There was talk that they would not be displayed along the Paseo de la Reforma because of the pandemic.  But this year's edition of what is becoming a Day of the Dead tradition is back at its usual location.  Each of the skulls is hand-painted by a different artist and is a unique work of art.

On Thursday I walked to Reforma, the city's iconic boulevard, and here are photos of some of the "Mexicráneos"...

This one had "sarapes", the colorful, blanket-like cloaks typical of Mexico, draped over it.

This one, at first glance, looks rather bland.  But if you look closer you see that it is covered with architectural drawings of famous buildings in Mexico City designed by Mexican architects.
For example, the National Museum of Anthropology...

This one, I think, was my favorite of all of them...

Friday, October 29, 2021

More for the Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead is just four days away.  Here are some more random photos that I took while walking around the city yesterday...

Nearly every bakery, café and restaurant in the city is offering "pan de muerto".


Just because this place is called "La Pastelería Suiza" (The Swiss Pastry Shop) does not mean that they do not sell Mexico's favorite bread for this time of year.
With or without cream filling!

This sign outside a café gives an explanation of the symbolism of the bread of the dead.

   It round shape represents the cycle of life and death.

The small knob on top represents the skull.

Around it are the bones of the arms and legs.

The four points of the compass are dedicated to the Aztec gods, Tezcatlipoca, Tlaloc, Quetzalcóatl and Xipetotec.

The flavor of orange blossom is for the remembrance of the deceased.

"Ofrendas", the altars in honor of the departed, are not set up only in families' homes.  Many businesses, churches and museums will also put up an "ofrenda" during this season.

There is a swimming pool supply store in the neighborhood of Condesa that has always decorated for the Day of the Dead.  This year is no exception.  I peeked inside the door to take a picture of the owner working on an elaborate "ofrenda".

This taco restaurant in the Zona Rosa district has an "ofrenda" with dishes of tacos and other items on the menu.

A common sight on the sidewalks of Mexico City are vendors selling the typical rag dolls that are known as "Marías".  This year for the first time I saw a Day of the Dead version of the doll with the skeletal face of a "Catrina".

Speaking of "Catrinas", I saw another vendor selling the elegant skeletons made from corn husks.  These were even more elaborate than the ones I bought last week for my "ofrenda", and they were the same price.  But, no, I didn't buy another one.

Finally, a larger than life "Catrina" welcomes visitors to a casino in the Zona Rosa.