Last Saturday on my way back from a beautiful botanical garden in San Salvador, El Salvador, I came upon a street lined with a variety of vendors leading up to a cemetery where hundreds of people paid their respects to deceased loved ones on Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The ceremonial days, which originated in Mexico dating back to the Aztecs, have spread throughout Latin America with many variations and customs of the celebration depending on the country. Surviving loved ones visit the graves of their departed friends and family to bring gifts and offerings such as flowers, food, and favorite objects amongst others. Various vendors sold flowers, both real and synthetic, jewelry, clothing, art, various foods including pupusas, a cheese and bean filled tortilla-like snack topped with cabbage and hot sauce, grilled corn, and others like fried plantain chips and grilled chicken plates with beans and rice.
It was pretty intense all around, and I tried to stay out of the way and be respectful, not entering the cemetery and trying not to be that touristy over-privileged white-bread gringo looking for an ‘experience’ to brag about at home or misappropriate a very important cultural tradition just for the sake of this blog. However, the vendors were very friendly towards me and were very interested in who I was, and happy I was going to share photos and information about their trade and celebration with the internet world. Despite the initial feeling this would be a very somber day of reflection, while there were many filled with sorrow remembering their lost loved ones, many others were celebrating their departed friends and family as if their spirits and souls were right there with them in joyous festive energy. I felt that this post could be informative as well as respectful and necessary about this important tradition.