My Experiences with Holidays

Learning about Halloween and Dia de Muertos

~ By Carlee

This past weekend, I experienced Halloween and Dia de Muertos festivities on Isla.

My weekend began on Thursday when I attended the Halloween Party at my school. I did not have a costume, so I quickly walked to the square in La Gloria and picked up some $20 peso cat ears to throw a costume together for the party. When we arrived to the party, I was bombarded with hugs from my students covered in make-up and costumes. We enjoyed some really good tamales. I had a great time watching the dance contest and seeing my little niños get down and boogie.

On Saturday night, we had a night on the town and attended a Halloween party at a local bar in the Centro. We all got in costume and had a great time.

On Sunday night, Volunquest volunteered to help throw a Halloween party for the children in Rancho Viejo. Rancho Viejo is a under the municipality of Isla Mujeres, but is located on the main land of Mexico. Our day began with transporting many donation and supplies such as two liters of drinks, plates, and prizes for the kids. We went to pick up tamales to serve and of course they were not ready, after all, the island operates on island/Mexican time. In panic, we made a game plan to split up to get everything done. When we arrived at the port, 50 loaves of pan de muerto were delivered to be transported on the ferry to the party. Little did we know, each pan de muerto was the size of a cake. The tamales still arrived late, so Jo and I had to cross on the 2 o’clock ferry and leave Kate behind to wait on the tamales. Transporting 50 loaves of pan de muerto was very difficult.

After arriving at Puerto Juarez, we unloaded all of the pan and other supplies and spent some time waiting on the ferry. Kate and Jess joined us at 3, after crossing on the 2:30 ferry with all the tamales. While waiting at the port, we received many weird looks and people staring. After all, why would some gringas need 50 loaves of pan and smell like tamales?

We arrived to the party at about 4 when the party began. Instantly, we were running around getting everything set up, pouring drinks, putting tamales on plates, starting to make hot chocolate and the list goes on. For the next three hours, I did not stop moving, helping in any way possible to serve all of the children and their families at the party. At the conclusion, I felt so good about giving back to the Rancho Viejo community, one that is a bit poorer than Isla. Although I worked very hard and the atmosphere was a bit chaotic at times, I know that the kids and families in the community really appreciated all the work we put in.