By Local Guides

Day of the Dead around Patzcuaro Lake

For the last 2 years in a row, still under the Covid-19 pandemic, the access to Janitzio Island has been closed, with no boat rides to the island to November the 1st and the 2nd, which has been great!!!

Thanks to this last, people have been looking for other choices to go see what is the #DayoftheDead celebration, finding out that other indigenous communities by the lakeshores do the same, and guess what; away from the crowds!

Timing is important next time you find yourself in the Patzcuaro area for the “Day of the Dead” days. Organize your time to go out and explore the cemeteries at:

Tzintzuntzan: A cemetery that literally “goes back to life” with great family meetings, pets, live music, and thousands of candles. This place has a vivid festival of life!

Cucuchucho: This is a poor indigenous community where local families keep celebrating the ritual to remember the dead souls with pre-Columbian roots.

Ihuatzio: Mostly for the local families, this cemetery is by the roadside and looks easy to walk through it on Nov-2.

Tzurumutaro: This one is plenty of candles and flowers to welcome the dead souls, with colorful decorations on the graveyards from local families waiting for their relatives to come back home and join the celebration.

Santa Fe: Found to the Northside of the lake, this is a small farming town where local families set up altars at home, to welcome the souls and share the night dining with chocolate, bread, pozole, and tamales.

Arocutin: This little village looks so great from the bell tower of the church after midnight. Most of the local families will stay overnight there, in the cemetery that is still surrounded by stone walls from centuries ago.

Cuanajo: The famous “Caballito” (little horse) is a huge altar at the main square that looks like a giant horse loaded with all items to decorate the altar and remember the dead souls of the entire community. Smaller “caballitos” can be seen on the graveyards at the local cemetery too.

Huiramba: Located by the roadside driving to Patzcuaro from Morelia, this is a cemetery where the locals really do not expect tourists.

Capula: A must in your trip is the stop in this craftsmen town where the famous “Catrinas” are made of clay and decorated by hand. Some of the best are the “Fridas”; skeleton figures that represent famous Frida Kahlo artist herself and her paintings as well. Don´t miss the Catrina festival that normally starts the weekend before the celebration takes place, ending to November the 2nd.

I have been there, in many of these places, many times and have had a fantastic experience to witness the celebration, away from the stress that represents waiting 2 hours in the line of people trying to get a ticket to Janitzio. I learned the lesson; I will not do it again!

“Day of the Dead around Patzcuaro Lake” By Alfredo de la Cruz

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