All the hoopla we see wrapped around the upcoming November 2 Día de Muertos holiday is not even vaguely similar to what I experienced when I put down roots at lakeside 50 years ago.
Back then there were no public festivals. No song and dance events. No Altar de Muertos contests and exhibits. No Catrina costume parades.
All that makes for a colorful hoot that jives with underlying Mexican philosophies of mocking death, thumbing a nose at the inevitable, belief in everlasting life beyond the grave.
Still, I appreciate the customs and practices of an earlier era before consumerism put its bony grip on the nation. And I’m mightily pleased that the most basic local traditions have not faded through time.
For the people of Lake Chapala communities the focus of the Day of the Dead season remains firmly fixed on communion with the dearly departed in the cemeteries where they were laid to rest. As October rolls to an end, families gravitate to the camposanto to pull up weeds, put down new plants, clean, repair and repaint gravesites, and decorate them with corona memorial wreaths, crepe paper streamers and odds and ends that stir up fond memories of lost souls.