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PILGRIMAGE TO DIA DE MUERTOS

October 28 - November 2, 2023

Ancestor Worship was once common among all of humankind, but today is only acknowledged in rare communities, where traditions are deeply revered and whose members are devoutly observant. Autumn marks a time of year when the veil is thinnest between the living and the dead, possibly connected to the end of the harvest, and the falling leaves that symbolize fragility of life, and endings. Dia de Muertos coincides with the Roman Catholic observance of All Saints Day, much like the Celtic ancestor worship tradition of Samhain, or All Souls Night. In Mexico, Dia de Muertos celebrations have evolved to include Christian elements, due to the convergence of ancient P'urepecha beliefs and customs with Roman Catholicism, and yet so many aspects of Dia de Muertos remain deeply rooted in pre-Columbian practices, from the doors, arches and altars adorned in marigolds, food offerings for the dead, and processions for delivering highly decorated altars to the graves of loved ones.


 

This Dia de Muertos experience will introduce guests to this momentous occasion through observation and participation, along a route that deviates from the large tour companies, delivering you to an authentic understanding of this celebration. Your lovely guide, Gerardo, has been offering tours here for the past 12 years, and has prepared tours for large bus-loads of guests, and smaller groups.  This tour is limited to 16 guests, and will include your guide and an assistant.  You will be introduced to unusual and special experiences around the lake that are missed by the mass crowds here, which means your understanding will be enriching.  Many guests have commented, over the years, "How I wish I could die Mexican!"

Questions?

Please email Jennifer at info@soulofmexicotours.com

Santa Fe de la Laguna, Michoacan Mexico

"I participated in Jen's tours of Dias de Muertos this year and it was so special. We visited places that were only accessible because we were on Jen's tour. Small cemeteries, being invited to go into people's home to celebrate the special day with them. I highly recommend it!"

*****

Carmen Forget

Testimonials
Regional Map

GETTING HERE

Morelia International Airport is the closest to Patzcuaro, though there are creative ways one can get here, that can include other destination points.  We are 3 hours from Leon Airport (San Miguel de Allende & Guanajuato), Santiago de Queretaro, and Guadalajara (Lake Chapala & Ajijic).  We are approximately 3.5-4 hours from Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, and 5 hours from Mexico City.  With such a central location, we are a perfect destination for those who are travelling along various routes of Central Mexico.

Questions?

Please email Jennifer at info@soulofmexicotours.com

 

Getting Here
www.soulofmexicotours.com

DETAILED ITINERARY

Saturday October 28, 2023

Your tour begins with a fun and entertaining party at a secret location, where the dead feast together! You will enjoy a welcome cocktail, 5 course tasting menu, live entertainment, and a few small surprises! Transportation is included; Cash Bar and Face Painting is separate. If you would like to have an artist do your makeup, please let us know in advance so we can make an appointment for you. We will also have face painters at the party, for those who are arriving to Patzcuaro in the late afternoon.

 

This party starts at 6:30 PM, with last call at 10:30. The buses will depart by 11 to have guests back in Patzcuaro around 11:15 or so.


 

Sunday October 29, 2023

This morning your guide will pick you up at 10 AM and take you to the Pueblo Magico of Santa Clara del Cobre to visit the copper maestros, weaver and a mask carver. Have lunch at Rancho la Mesa, with stunning views of Lake Patzcuaro, then head to Patzcuaro for a walking tour of our charming downtown, concluding at the art market on Plaza Grande, where your guide will help you with purchases and information about the various mediums and the villages where they are made.


 

Monday October 30, 2023

This morning your guide will pick you up at 9:30 AM and take you to the home of a local P’urepecha artist. There, you will spend the morning working together to create a beautiful and traditional P’urepecha style Muertos altar, made from a wooden frame that is covered in fresh marigolds. While here, you will learn about the artists embroidery work, and have the chance to make direct purchases. You will enjoy a simple and traditional lunch with the family before departing for the quaint village of Capula, where you will visit the studio of Maestro Juan Torres, and browse the fantastic ceramic market that is set up annually during Dia de Muertos.


 

This evening, meet up with other guests at a local restaurant for a fascinating lecture about the history of Dia de Muertos. Here, you have the honour of adorning the offrenda with your altar. Guests are encouraged to bring a small photo of a deceased loved one you would like to honour. We recommend a small frame, with a copied photo (rather than an original), in case you are unable to retrieve the photo before you leave. Guests may also purchase a small shot of Mezcal, Tequila or spirit to leave as an offering, though this is not necessary.


 

Tuesday October 31, 2023

This morning your guide will pick you up at 9:30 AM for a morning boat ride to the Isla de Janitzio. Famed for Dia de Muertos, we avoid this island during the Noche de Muertos cemetery tour, due to unbearable crowds that overwhelm the streets and cemetery. You will be able to visit the cemetery and witness the preparations taking place around the island, and can return to Patzcuaro for lunch at around 1:30 PM. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon resting or further exploring Patzcuaro’s centro.

This evening, your guide will pick you up at 7:30 and bring you to a nearby village, where the local P’urepecha families honour the souls of young children and virgins, during a celebration known as the Vigil de los Angelitos. In the town centre, you will purchase offrendas to bring to two host families, which your guide will help you with. This is a very intimate affair, with few foreign tourists. The families will invite you into their homes to observe their altars, and will offer you food and mezcal or tequila. (Please always accept your gifts, even if you don’t wish to eat them. It is a traditional protocol to always accept what you are offered.) You will return to Patzcuaro around 11-11:30 PM.


 

Wednesday November 1, 2023

This morning, your tour will depart by 10:15 for the Pueblo Magico of Tzintzuntzan. Visit the ancient city of Tzintzuntzan to see the Yacatas, which are burial tombs for P’urepecha Kings, then head to Las Yacatas Restaurant for a beautiful lunch at Noon. (We will send you a pre-order menu in October, prior to your tour, as the restaurant is very busy with reservations that day.) Following lunch, head to the ex-convent and bustling streets to observe a fantastic procession of mariachi bands and families arriving in the cemetery with offrendas for their loved ones. This is a festive, loud and colourful celebration to witness, though you may find yourself feeling emotional at times. Depart Tzintzuntzan bt 2:30 PM for Patzcuaro, to rest and relax before the evening pilgrimage begins.

Your Noche de Muertos tour will depart at 8 PM, and will not return to Patzcuaro until around 4:30 or 5 AM. We do not announce our tours, as we work hard to bring our guests to less-frequented cemeteries, though you will visit at least one that has crowds.

We have a few simple rules about our Noche de Muertos tour – including refraining from wearing face paint, using flashes in the cemeteries, or taking close-up photographs without asking for permission. You will see hundreds of people with face paint in certain cemeteries, but this is not traditional and could be offensive to indigenous elders. Children may be trick-or-treating, and as this is permitted by their parents, we encourage our guests to participate. The families will appreciate your gestures of generosity towards their children, as thanks for sharing their celebrations with you. If you would like us to source candies for you, please let us know what you would like to spend and we will have them ready for you.


 

Thursday November 2, 2023

We do not have anything planned for November 2, as guests will return to their hotels at 4:30-5:00 AM. We highly recommend staying in Patzcuaro tonight, and departing on the 3rd, to give yourself time to rest and reflect on all that you have processed. Dia de Muertos is a touching and sometimes life-changing experience, and one that can be emotional, especially for anyone who has recently lost a loved one.


 

If you need assistance with transportation to your next destination, please contact Jennifer at info@soulofmexicotours.com. We hope you enjoy this incredible and culturally enriching observation, and will join us for future tours and events!

 

 

 

 

 

Questions?

Please email Jennifer at info@soulofmexicotours.com

 

Detailed Itinerary
Vigil de los Angelitos - Dia de Muertos, Michoacan Mexico

"To live in hearts we leave behind

is not to die"

- Thomas Campbell

PHOTO GALLERIES

The following photo galleries represent some of the activities and scenes you can expect to see during our tour, though the experience is unlike anything we can portray here.  Some activities not shown here include our Altar Party, which is a dinner & lecture about the history of Dia de Muertos.  As you will be creating your own altar with a local family, we will erect it at the restaurant. Please don't forget to bring photos of a deceased loved one you would like to honour during this beautiful observation, as you can place a photo on the altar.         

Questions?

Please email Jennifer at info@soulofmexicotours.com

 

Photo Galleries
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STAY IN ENCHANTING PATZCUARO

Our beautiful city of Patzcuaro is home to around 80,000 people, though the centro of the town feels more village-like.  Located in the epicenter of Dia de Muertos celebrations around the lake, this is the ideal location for celebrations.  We hope you enjoy our charming and picturesque Pueblo Magico as much as we do!

Patzcuaro, Michoacan Mexico
Patzcuaro, Michoacan Mexico

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Patzcuaro, Michoacan Mexico
Patzcuaro, Michoacan Mexico

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Patzcuaro, Michoacan Mexico
Patzcuaro, Michoacan Mexico

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Patzcuaro, Michoacan Mexico
Patzcuaro, Michoacan Mexico

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ATTEND OUR CATRINA MASQUERADE

As Catrina is now iconic for Dia de Muertos, we are pleased to organize a fun-filled party each year, prior to Dia de Muertos, so our guests can partake in a masquerade party with local entertainment and wonderful cuisine.  We are strongly against guests wearing face-paint to the cemeteries during our Noche de Muertos tour, as it is not customary among the local P'urepecha, and may be seen as offensive.  While some worry that wearing face paint at our party is akin to participating in cultural appropriation, it should be noted that La Catrina was never sacred or part of local indigenous rituals.  Her origin story is not connected to Dia de Muertos, but as she was inspired by an Aztec Goddess, she has become emblematic of this observation across Mexico.  Guests will find that the Mexicans are extremely inclusive, and are happy to help you participate in this colorful and vibrant party, by painting your face and bringing beautiful accessories for your costume, which you may purchase.  We invite you to join us for a memorable evening, complete with live entertainment and a few surprises along the way.       

 

La Fiesta de Catrinas Clandestina
La Fiesta de Catrinas Clandestina

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La Fiesta de Catrinas Clandestina Masquerade
La Fiesta de Catrinas Clandestina Masquerade

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La Fiesta de Catrinas Clandestina Masquerade
La Fiesta de Catrinas Clandestina Masquerade

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La Fiesta de Catrinas Clandestina
La Fiesta de Catrinas Clandestina

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VISIT SANTA CLARA DEL COBRE

Doorways that glimmer with the warmth of copper, is one way to describe your entrance to this quaint Pueblo Magico.  The history of how this town became the copper capital of Mexico is intriguing, and a morning spent learning about the process for forging copper, and browsing through the dozens of beautiful galleries is an iconic part of the Michoacan experience.     

 

Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan Mexico
Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan Mexico

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Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan Mexico
Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan Mexico

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Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan Mexico
Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan Mexico

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Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan Mexico
Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan Mexico

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LA CATRINA OF THE CAPULINES

La Catrina is one of the most prominent features of visiting Capula, but guests will find an eclectic collection of ceramic mediums in this adorable village.  Visit the estate of celebrated Maestro, Juan Torres, and browse through the annual Catrina Festival market in the center of town.  You will find all kinds of pottery, from functional dish and cookware to decorative flower pots, sconces and countless shapes, sizes and styles of La Catrina.  A town that should not be missed, especially during Dia de Muertos!

Juan Torres Estate, Capula Michoacan
Juan Torres Estate, Capula Michoacan

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Juan Torres Estate, Capula Michoacan
Juan Torres Estate, Capula Michoacan

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Capula, Michoacan
Capula, Michoacan

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Juan Torres Estate, Capula Michoacan
Juan Torres Estate, Capula Michoacan

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ISLA DE JANITZIO

We do not visit Isla de Janitzio during Noche de Muertos, as it is simply too crowded, with lines that can take 2.5 hours before even boarding the boat.  Though famed as the epicentre of Dia de Muertos, the cemeteries around the Lake Patzcuaro region are just as amazing, each with their own unique experience.  We will take you to the Isla de Janitzio prior to Dia de Muertos, so you can still experience the beautiful boat ride and fun, bustling little island of staircases.

Isla de Janitzio, Michoacan Mexico
Isla de Janitzio, Michoacan Mexico

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Isla de Janitzio, Michoacan Mexico
Isla de Janitzio, Michoacan Mexico

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Isla de Janitzio, Michoacan Mexico
Isla de Janitzio, Michoacan Mexico

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Isla de Janitzio, Michoacan Mexico
Isla de Janitzio, Michoacan Mexico

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ANCIENT CAPITAL OF THE P'UREPECHA

Dia de Muertos is celebrated across Mexico and other parts of Latin America, but has many variations, even within our region.  As this observation is rooted in P'urepecha cosmology here, we feel it is important to bring guests to see the tombs of mighty kings, who once ruled the P'urepecha Empire from Tzintzuntzan.  Though a small archaeological site now, this powerful city was once much larger than what we will see, and for those who opt for our tour to Tzintzuntzan on Nov 1 (not included in the price), you will also have the chance to see stones at the convent, that are etched with P'urepecha symbols and images.

Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan Mexico
Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan Mexico

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Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan Mexico
Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan Mexico

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Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan Mexico
Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan Mexico

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Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan Mexico
Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan Mexico

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PILGRIMAGE TO SACRED VIGILS

While most visitors only visit the cemetery vigils on Noche de Muertos, we include the Vigil de los Angelitos, as these two observations are so interesting.  The Vigil de los Angelitos is for honouring the lives of virgins and children who have died, while Noche de Muertos is for everyone else. 

 

Guests are sometimes confused by the dates of Dia de Muertos, as the tours (and preparations by the villagers) begin in the early evening, but the vigils start at midnight.  The Vigil de los Angelitos is marked as November 1 (starting at midnight), but our tour is on the evening of October 31.  Families continue celebrating and honouring the souls of children and virgins throughout the day, on November 1.  In the early evening of November 1, we set out on our Noche de Muertos tour, but the vigil, once again, starts at midnight - and our Noche de Muertos tour will end at around 4:30 AM on November 2.  While we head home to our beds for sleep, many indigenous observers will be asleep in the cemeteries, and will continue to celebrate throughout the day on November 2.    

 

Michoacan - Dia de Muertos - Day of the Dead
Michoacan - Dia de Muertos - Day of the Dead

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Vigil de los Angelitos - Dia de Muertos, Michoacan Mexico
Vigil de los Angelitos - Dia de Muertos, Michoacan Mexico

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Michoacan - Dia de Muertos - Day of the Dead
Michoacan - Dia de Muertos - Day of the Dead

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Michoacan - Dia de Muertos - Day of the Dead
Michoacan - Dia de Muertos - Day of the Dead

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MEET YOUR GUIDES

We would like to introduce ourselves, so you know who you will be travelling with!

Meet your Guides
Gerardo Chavez.jpg

GERARDO CHAVEZ

Gerard Chavez was born and raised in Morelia, and has always had an enthusiasm for Mexican culture, history and art.  IN 2011, Gerardo completed his National Guide License through SECTUR, and has enjoyed introducing guests to Mexico since.  Gerardo has dozens of tours for us over the years, and also works for other agencies.  His tour experiences have taken him to Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, all over Michoacan and El Bajio (San Miguel, Queretaro, and Guanajuato region), and up to San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas.  Gerardo loves being on the road, and is an enthusiastic and helpful guide.

Anime Girl Praying

TBA

As we work with many guides and locals who speak English, we will announce this closer to Dia de Muertos.  You will have an assistant to help with some of the logistics, including setting up lunch on the day you make the altars, and assisting guests throughout the tour with questions and translation.  Your assistant witll be fluent in Spanish and English, so can help guests with lunch menus, store purchases, and in circumstances where Gerardo needs help assisting everyone.

CONSIDERATIONS DURING THIS TOUR

Please consider a donation:  We work with two orphanages in Michoacan - Hogar Fenix in Patzcuaro and Hogar Irekani in Morelia.  If you would like to make a donation, please contact us for more information. 

Trick or Treat:  Local children now celebrate the tradition of trick-or-treat, and will ask for money or candies.  We realize some guests find this an appalling affront to the tradition of Dia de Muertos; however, their parents and families allow this - and culture is not static.  We are here to observe new traditions, which is as exciting for us, as getting candies is for the young children.  If you choose to carry pesos for the children, we can get 1 peso coins, as this is sufficient per child!  If you would like to hand out candies, please let us know and we can recommend a store.

Catrina Face:  Since the release of Pixar's Coco, guests have been painting their faces before heading out to the cemeteries.  If you have your face painted during the day, we ask you to remove face paint before boarding the van.  Though you will see a lot of nationals and tourists in Catrina-face on the night of Muertos, Catrina is not traditional among the local indigenous peoples, and could come across as very offensive.  It is one thing for a culture to evolve on its own, and another for outsiders to force influence on such changes.  You will see some indigenous children with face paint, but so far, this is not customary among teenagers, adults or elders.  We organize our Catrina Party so guests can enjoy the fun of a masquerade, without trampling indigenous traditions or causing unnecessary offence.

For your own comfort:  Weather can be inclement at this time of year, so please be prepared for rainy skies.  An umbrella is highly recommended, along with rain gear and a pair of sturdy boots.  Expect the cemeteries to be very slippery if it rains, a there will be a lot of mud.  Some light snacks and water bottle are nice to have.  As we will be on a boat for the latter part of the morning, we suggest leaving a small blanket/warm jacket and change of socks on the bus, for the ride back to Patzcuaro. 

Be Flexible:  Traffic jams or delays can happen anywhere.  Sometimes museums are closed without notice, and we will need to find a new activity.  We will always try our best to keep our schedule and activities fluid. 

Be Punctual:  We ask guests to be 10 mins early for departure times, so we can load the van and maintain our schedule as best as possible.

 

Switch Seating:  This isn't always necessary if guests are happy with their seating arrangement, but different seats offer different views.  We will share the front seat between guests, so everyone enjoys the most comfortable seat, and panoramic view of the road and road-side attractions.

Read your Itinerary:  We will print itineraries for everyone, and ask you to please check it over at night, so you know what is happening the following day.  We will always discuss departure times for the following day, but it is helpful if guests pay attention to our schedule of events and activities.

Taking Photos:  If you are taking up-close photos of the locals, please ask permission.  This is especially important with indigenous peoples, and children.  Most often, you will be met with a warm smile.

Sales People:  Please acknowledge sales people in the streets, even if you aren't interested in what they have on offer.  As guests, we must be mindful to show respect for the local people, including those who are homeless and asking for change.

Tipping:  It is standard for foreigners to tip between 15-20% in restaurants.  If you purchase anything in the grocery stores, and someone bags your items, the standard tip is 5 Pesos per bag.  (They pay for their own bags, and do not make a wage.  They are often seniors who have no pensions).   A standard tip for hotel rooms is $40 Pesos per night.  We recommend tipping each morning, as someone different may be cleaning your room each day.

Questions?

Please contact Jennifer at info@soulofmexicotours.com<