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SACRED OBSERVATIONS OF 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. As our wonderful guide not only speaks P'urepecha, but also has P'urepecha ancestry, his dedication to ethical protocols means we benefit from special invitations to private homes and smaller cemeteries far from the maddening crowds. Be prepared for a life-altering journey to a precious and significant holiday that will leave you wishing you 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

Our 5th Annual Fiesta de las Catrinas Clandestina will be held in a secret location outside of Patzcuaro, and the bus will depart at 6 PM to take guests to the party. We will arrange to have a make-up artist come to your hotel in the afternoon to paint everyone’s faces. Once at the party, enjoy a welcome cocktail, 5 course tasting menu, live entertainment and a few small surprises. Last call is at 10:30, and the buses return to Patzcuaro at 11 PM.


 

Sunday October 29, 2023

This morning we will depart Patzcuaro at 9:30 AM for the Pueblo Magico of Santa Clara del Cobre. Learn how the maestro’s forge copper in the fire, and visit copper galleries. We will have lunch at Rancho le Mesa, with stunning views of Lake Patzcuaro and the Island of Janitzio. Following lunch, we will visit the studio of Teofila Servin, who creates exquisite embroidered tapestries and also showcases work from many women in her family. We will then move to Tzintzuntzan for a short but fascinating visit to the ancient P’urepecha Capital of Tzintzuntzan. Our last stop is Capula, to visit the studio of Maestro Juan Torres, before exploring the annual art market in the centro of the village, that is set up each year during their Catrina Festival. We will return to Patzcuaro around 6-6:30 PM.


 

Monday October 30, 2023

Today we will have the opportunity to make our own Muertos altar. Assembled on a wooden frame, guests will tie marigolds onto the frame, and we will keep this for our Altar Party in the evening. Our day includes the villages of Santa Ana Chapitiro, to visit the Temple of Santa Muerte, Hacienda Oponguio, where we can taste Mezcal and enjoy incredible views of the lake, and some other small villages in the region. We will return to Patzcuaro for dinner and a lecture about Dia de Muertos. Here we will assemble our altar and guests may leave a photo of a deceased loved one they would like to honour, on the altar. Please bring copies, as you may not have time to retrieve your photo’s. An inexpensive frame is a great way to display them, and we ask the photos to be no larger than a 4x6 due to space.


 

Tuesday October 31, 2023

Today is a free day for exploring Patzcuaro and enjoying the artisans market on Plaza Grande. At 8 PM we will depart Patzcuaro for a nearby village for a special Vigil de los Angelitos. This vigil is for the souls of innocent children and virgins who have died, and we will be invited into the homes of the families who are honouring their loved ones. Please bring around $100 Pesos, as we will have the opportunity to purchase gifts for our hosts. We will return to Patzcuaro around 11-11:30 PM.


 

Wednesday November 1, 2023

Today is a day of rest for our guide, as our Noche de Muertos tour goes from 6PM-4:30 AM. If you would like to visit Tzintzuntzan for the Procession of Altars, please contact Jennifer directly, to make arrangements for you.

Our Noche de Muertos tour begins at 6 PM, and includes dinner with a P’urepecha family in a small village around the lake. We do not announce our route, as we prefer to keep our special places low-key and away from the chaotic crowds. We will return at around 4:30 AM.


 

Thursday November 2, 2023

We do not have any tours or events booked for today, but we recommend guests stay to rest and process all you’ve experienced before your departure. Some guests may choose to leave today, but please keep in mind our early morning return at 4:30 AM means you won’t get much sleep, if you need to check-out of your hotel by 11 AM.

Questions?

Please email Jennifer at info@soulofmexicotours.com

 

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

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
www.soulofmexicotours.com

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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TEMPLE OF SANTA MUERTE

Though controversial and misunderstood for many, this interesting temple offers an insight into how ritual and religion sometimes fuse into something new, such as the smudging with copal incense and fresh eggs, or the leaving of money, cigarettes as offerings to Santa Muerte, along with vows of sacrifice for prayers and miracles.  This is a truly unusual and captivating temple.

Please be mindful of locals here, as many have come to pray or for cleansing rituals.  We ask that guests not take pictures of anyone being smudged, or in prayer.

Temple of Santa Muerte, Michoacan Mexico
Temple of Santa Muerte, Michoacan Mexico

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Temple of Santa Muerte, Michoacan Mexico
Temple of Santa Muerte, Michoacan Mexico

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Temple of Santa Muerte, Michoacan Mexico
Temple of Santa Muerte, Michoacan Mexico

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Temple of Santa Muerte, Michoacan Mexico
Temple of Santa Muerte, 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 OUR TEAM

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

Meet our Team
Jaime Balderas.jpg

JAIME HERNANDEZ BALDERAS

Jaime Hernandez was born and raised in Patzcuaro, and has been a National Guide for many years.  For some, guiding is a job or a career, but for Jaime, it's a lifestyle.  Fluent in Spanish, English and proficient in P'urepecha, Jaime's fascination with culture and world history offers incredible insights into the impact of the world on Mexico, and Mexico on the world.  We truly appreciate Jaime's dedication to respecting traditional protocols when organizing tours that bring guests to local communities and families, as having an invitation sets a different understanding of indigenous communities, than simply arriving and intruding.  We are honoured to work with such an esteemed and knowledgeable guide and friend.  

Jennifer Bjarnason 20214_edited.jpg

JENNIFER BJARNASON

Jennifer Bjarnason was born on the West Coast of Canada, and has been living in Michoacan since 2016.  With 31 years experience working with indigenous artists from the Pacific Northwest Coast, Jennifer's background as an art dealer is what initially brought her to Michoacan, assisting a boutique hotel with art tours.  From there, as she continued to explore Mexico, Jennifer opened Soul of Mexico Tours and began leading groups on adventures, from day trips to a two week excursion that follows part of Mexico's incredible Silver Road.  Jennifer organizes most of our logistics, designs most of our tour content, creates parties, schedules lectures, personally selects wines, mezcals and beers for special events, and even makes sauces, baked goods and other special treats for our picnics.  She looks forward to hosting you!

CONSIDERATIONS DURING THIS TOUR

Please consider a donation:  We will be hosted in one particular remote community where the locals put on a special event for us.  Please consider bringing a donation for their efforts.  The money donated will be used for community meals, and will be very much appreciated.  Suggested donation is $100 Pesos per person, though you are certainly welcome to offer more, depending on how much you enjoy this experience.  

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.

 

Tour Considerations
Dia de Muertos 2018 DSC_0838.JPG

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Travel Insurance:  We are not an insurance company, so do not include insurance with our tours.  We highly recommend guests look into the cost of insurance, prior to booking your tour.  

WE REQUIRE A 25% NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT TO CONFIRM TOUR.  FULL PAYMENT IS DUE ONE MONTH IN ADVANCE, AND IS NOT REFUNDABLE.  PLEASE READ OUR CANCELLATION POLICY BEFORE BOOKING YOUR TOUR.

Medical Insurance:  Please make sure you travel with a medical insurance plan.  We ask guests to send us contact information for your insurance provider, in case you are unconscious from an accident, stroke or other injury.  

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. 

Questions?

Please email Jennifer at info@soulofmexicotours.com

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