Día de los Muertos en Durango

You may recall that last month we went to Durango, prior to the road opening. This weekend we had to go again. Thank GOODNESS the road was open! The Baluarte Bridge is incredible, and the entire drive is unbelievably gorgeous and easy (three hours door to door). Greg will write more about that in a separate post.

We were heartbroken to miss the callejoneada for Day of the Dead here in Mazatlán, but we thought we’d share with you a glimpse of what Día de los Muertos looks like elsewhere. In Durango the cemeteries were full of people, of course—flowers, cleaning, bands, praying and partying. The city also hosted a hot air balloon festival. In the main plaza, in front of the cathedral, there was a large “Day of the Dead” display set up. It contained a dozen or more life-sized papier maché katrinas and other scenes, plus a few stages for performances.

Durango was completely different this time, primarily because last time we were there it was the height of their major annual cultural festival. Streets, plazas and restaurants were much less crowded this time around. Below are some photos we took this trip—a favorite new restaurant, some street scenes, and the plaza display. Click any photo to enlarge or view a slide show.

On Friday night Greg and I wandered back down to the plaza while Danny studied for his test, and there was a children’s folkloric dance group performing. What was out of the ordinary about this one was that the kids all dressed up as calacas—skeletons—and in glow-in-the-dark costumes. The stage was lit with black lights, so it was a pretty cool effect. We enjoyed it a lot.

Just prior to the performance, the little kids had fun posing for my camera. During the performance, shots were of course very challenging, as it was very dark and the kids were constantly moving. They danced to some songs you’d expect—Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” for example—and they also took us on a tour around México.

I put together a short (three minute) video of the performance. I trust you’ll enjoy watching it. The kids had soooo much fun in their costumes. They knew they looked great.

On the pedestrian street to the left of the cathedral, just down from Hostal de las Monjas and across the street from our favorite little cenaduría, El Parcero Tacos Bar, is a large funeral home, Funerales Hernández. They had an altar to Jenni Rivera that was larger and more superb than ANY I have EVER laid my eyes on. They called it a “Monumental Altar de Muertos.” It contained dozens of life-sized katrinas, ceramic and sugar skulls, antique and artesenal chachkes, Jenni Rivera music playing (not too loud), a mini disco ball for effect, and gorgeous paper work. Just take a look:

On our way back to the hotel, we walked by the old Palacio Municipal. It was all decorated for Day of the Dead, too. Those photos are below.


¡Por Fiiiiin! Finally!


How many times have I posted to their Facebook wall, asking them to play at home? How many times have I joked with Joel in the elevator, telling him we need him here?

Finally, last night, we were able to see Banda El Recodo for the third time in concert. They played up at the Mazatlán International Center, as part of events leading up to tonight’s Premios Oye, the Latin American Grammy awards. Below is one of the first songs they opened with, the Corrido de Mazatlán, of course.

Their music is so tight; sound was perfect. They all danced, kicked and blowed their horns for two hours non-stop. It was an evening full of joy and life, minus my querido Poncho, of course 😦 Click on any of the photos below to enlarge it, or to view a slideshow.

Every time we see this group, we are so impressed with the event itself. It is incredibly well orchestrated, on Vegas levels. Below I’ll post a slideshow of some of the backdrops, the staging. Banda El Recodo has to employ the best graphics and stage design professionals anywhere! At the start of the concert, a huge screen on the right side got loose and blew dangerously in the wind. It took less than two minutes for a stagehand to get it down and safely secured, and maybe two songs later, it was back up, securely fastened and in working order. Most impressive! Enjoy the slideshow below.

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For those of you attending the ceremonies tonight, I can share with you a bit of what we learned last night. This applies to general admission people only (we were not VIPs). They will not let you take in any food or drink, or any sharp items that could hurt someone else. There are 3 or 4 areas where your tickets are checked and your bags/person searched, so no friends getting friends in. Tonight they are expecting 12,000 people, so get in early! Parking was of course crazy, especially when things finished, as you have all those people walking in front of cars trying to get out of the lots. Parking was on the street and in dirt lots like last year; the parking garage was not accessible. They even had the overhead walkway blocked off (you know I wanted to sit up there).

1.P1000457Tonight’s Premios Oye stars are scheduled to include: Alejandro Sanz, Emmanuel, Mijares, Sasha, Benny y Érick, Cristian Castro, Belinda, Alan Tatcher, Danna paola, Francisco Céspedes, Banda El Recodo, Banda Max, Carlos Gatica, Fey, 3Bal MTY, Chamín Correa, Monserrat Olivier, Jan, María Daniela y Sonido, M15, Fobia, Il Volo, Pedro Rivera, José Manuel Figueroa, Juan Solo, Kinky, María José. Miró, Grupo Pesado and Sofí Mayen. Carlos Gatica and Fey will be the masters of ceremony.

Red carpet starts at 7:00 pm, and the awards ceremony at 8:00. Special awards will go to four founders of Sinaloan banda music: Don Cruz Lizárraga, René Camacho, Germán Lizárraga and Salvador Lizárraga. Special tribute for their artistic career will be given to the singer Marco Antonio Muñiz and guitarist Chamín Correa. A special tribute will be offered to our dearly departed “Diva of the Banda”, Jenny Rivera.

I received an announcement today that urged people to dress comfortably, since most of us will be standing during the awards. I know lots of people will dress to the nines, and I’m looking forward to seeing that. But me, I’ll obey the advice, thank you very much!