Day of the Dead is one of Mexico’s most revered and unique observances, combining Pre-Hispanic rituals with Catholic traditions. During this time, families gather to remember their departed loved ones. It is believed that through this reflection and memory, they are kept alive! Altars are prepared and grave sites are decorated with candles, flowers, and the food/drink that the departed enjoyed during their lifetimes. Likely, this includes mole, tamales and mezcal! Join us on this unique exploration of the cycle of life and death in Mexico.
Join us on an extraordinary journey to learn about how Mexicans observe Day of the Dead. We’ll visit the grave sites and altars that have been decorated to commemorate the return of deceased family members and loved ones. And, we’ll learn about the “synchretism” or fusion of the Prehispanic world and the Catholic world that produced a unique form of internalized meaning and outward expressions and symbols. By traveling to small villages, we gently observe this most meaningful tradition that honors the memory of loved ones.
Day 1: October 27: Arrive Morelia, transfer to our centrally located hotel. We enjoy a light snack at the Portales, across from the Cathedral, which is illuminated at night! (D)
Day 2: October 28: Capula and Uruapan, Today we transfer to Uruapan and the “Meseta Purepecha” a singular region of Mexico, a high tropical plateau, where avocados and macadamia nuts grow. Before we get there, we’ll stop at the charming and singular “Feria de la Catrina” in the artisan community of Capula. We can select our favorite “Catrina/s”. Arriving in Uruapan, we’ll settle into our charming hotel in the center of Uruapan, before heading out to the town of Angahuan, where we will meet community members who will lead us by horseback to the volcanic remains of Paricutin, a volcano that erupted and covered the region with lava, in the 1940’s. We’ll enjoy a lunch of regional cuisine. (B, L)
Day 3: October 29: Purepecha Plateau Communities: Visit “Artesones” temples in the communities of Pomucuaran, Nurio, Cocucho, Zacan and others. Known as the “Ruta de Don Vasco”, we will learn about the work of Vasco de Quiroga and visit the “hospitals” (community centers) and temples erected in the 16th century to support the indigenous communities and Purépecha people. Learning skills that would last a lifetime, the Purépecha people today retain the legacy of Vasco de Quiroga, as we will see. Returning to Uruapan, we’ll visit the Eduardo Ruiz National Park. Evening is at leisure. (B, L)
Day 4: October 30: Marigold Fields and Patzcuaro, After breakfast at our hotel, we depart for the lakeside town of Patzcuaro. En route, we pay a visit to the local farmers who have been cultivating their marigold fields since May, for the Day of the Dead celebrations. In this lakeside community, you can smell the lake air and the rich earth that combine to produce a bountiful harvest of marigolds. This bucolic paradise is followed by a guided walking tour of Patzcuaro that includes visits to: the Basilica, Large and Small Town Squares, House of Eleven Patios. Dinner at leisure in Patzcuaro. (B, L)
Day 5: October 31: Tzintzuntzan and Santa Fe de La Laguna, After breakfast, we travel to the lakeside ruins of the Prehispanic Purepecha empire in Tzintzuntzan. Little is known about the early Purepecha people, but it is believed that they are descendants of peoples from northwestern Mexico, known as the Chichimecas. We spend time visiting the present day village and artisans of Tzintzuntzan. From here, we travel to the first community founded in the region, Santa Fe de la Laguna, where we’ll explore this small town that looks like it froze in time. We’ll enjoy a lunch of regional cuisine. Returning to Patzcuaro, our evening is at leisure. (B, L)
Day 6: November 1: All Souls and All Saints Day and Night, We rise before dawn, quaff down coffee and breakfast and head out on our early morning boat journey across Lake Patzcuaro to the island community of Janitzio. We travel early in order to witness the Vigil of the Little Angels, where the souls of children who have died, are visited. Following our return boat journey, we have a free afternoon to stroll and shop in Patzcuaro, and to rest up for our night time departure to witness the all night grave site vigils that take place in the communities surrounding Lake Patzcuaro. It is here that we begin to understand how Mexican people view the concept of life and death.(B)
Day 7: November 2: Santa Clara del Cobre-Morelia, On our final day in the Patzcuaro region, we visit the famed copper town of Santa Clara del Cobre. Here, we’ll visit the hammered copper workshops to learn of this ancient tradition and craft. In town, we’ll enjoy a “corunda” tamale making workshop / demo and enjoy our lunch of these regional delicacies. Finally, we visit the local gravesite to see how the people of this community celebrate by day, by visiting their loved ones, hiring local bands and sharing food, to honor and celebrate the return of their loved ones. Return to Morelia, evening at leisure. (B, L)
Day 8: November 3: Morelia City Tour, Today we’ll enjoy a fascinating walking city tour of Morelia, a colonial gem. Morelia is a conservative city with deep traditions in higher education, music and the arts. Highlights include: The Government Palace and Alfredo Zalce Murals, Palace of Justice, Cathedral, Temple of the Roses, the former Aqueduct, and the outstanding House of Artesanias. We will enjoy a fabulous farewell dinner at one of Morelia’s top rated restaurants.(B, D)
Day 9: November 4: Depart for Home or extend in Morelia