I think photos describe this parade better than anything I could write would – so this one is going to be a mostly photo-filled article. However it is worthwhile to write of the lead-up.
We woke earlyish and headed out on the mission to walk to the ‘Angel of Independence”
monument which is where the parade was going to start from at 3pm. We wandered though many undulating streets full of interesting little eateries and sights and eventually made it to the Monument de Revolution where we found a well recommend Cervezaria. It was completely empty, seemed overpriced, but what convinced us to go in and have a beer after all – was that it was playing the un-edited version of “Killing in the Name Of” as we walked in. Imagine. Around midday on a Saturday in Mexico City, in a large bar near a huge monument around the center: Rage Against the Machine and one of the more offensive songs thereof. Loved it. They changed the song to some Spanish easy-listening abruptly half-way though our beer – probably thinking we were horribly offended, and sadly, our Spanish was so rudimentary at that stage that we couldn’t possibly have explained otherwise.
At around 2:15pm we decided we needed to get to the viewing point for the parade to ensure we got a good seat – so off we went, we passed a large motorcycle rally which was cool to see – biker dudes and chicks all leathered up roaring about. It must have been sweltering for them! Mind you – Mexico City was in the midst of what passes for Winter around here so perhaps they thought it was ideal riding weather.
We got to the large street where the Angel of Independence was (the Paseo de la Reforma) and were a bit surprised to find it pretty empty. There were about 10 people sitting down around the road that looked like they were waiting for a parade to start – but everyone else just seemed to be walking to somewhere else! Given that it was the very first Parade of it’s kind ever, we were a bit concerned that the citizens of the City would shun it and it would be a flop but were determined to see it ourselves.
So just to explain, prior to the making of the latest James Bond movie: Spectre, there was NO parade for the Day of the Dead in Mexico. It was a festival celebrated in private, by believers looking to genuinely celebrate their dead loved ones so I can imagine that a parade made no sense. This wasn’t Christmas. But the spectacle manufactured for the silver screen so impressed city officials that Mexico City decided to make it real – and use the same props as were produced for the movie (!!) – in an attempt to raise the profile of the festival, and draw more tourism. We didn’t know any of this when we watched the Movie – and were imagining how awesome it would be to actually be in amongst something like that – good thing we didn’t Google it at the time or we would have been disappointed!
Anyway – back to the parade, we found a spot on the road, sat ourselves down on the pavement, and waited for 3pm. Which came and went with no change, other than the accumulation of a few more people around us. 4pm also came and went and by then – there was actually a sizeable crowd and a few street sellers peddling drinks and snacks, as well as a few opportunists offering temporary tattoos of popular symbols (skulls, skeletons, spiderwebs, etc.). Around 4:15 – the police made an appearance and by 4:30, when the first float arrived – it felt like we were in a fully-fledged massive crowd! The atmosphere was lively, fun, and expectant & many of the watchers had face paint or full costumes on to celebrate the occasion. The parade itself was just awesome – huge and spectacular – see the photos below to see what I mean 🙂
After the parade, we dispersed with the massive crowd into the streets surrounding the area and being pretty hungry, stopped for tacos along the way. We were supposed to eat carefully – street food and hygiene and all that – but stuff it! We were hungry, in Mexico City, surrounded by taco stands.. the temptation was too much. We had 6, then another 6 tacos al pastor (mystery meat cooked on a massive meat rotisserie thing – which I now know is meat ‘al pastor’) with lettuce, tomato and onion salad, and the
yummiest, spiciest green salsa ever. DELICIOUS. Those were the tacos of a lifetime. And we would never find the same taco stand again as we barely knew where we were. We eventually made our way home after wandering in its general direction, going through large street markets full off knock off clothes and whatnot, and coming across a liquor store selling a lovely local Pinot Noir called Castillio del Diablo. The Devil’s castle. Was delish.
The day was supposed to end with us going to a
Halloween party that we were kindly invited to by a friend of Roger’s but we were completely wasted by the end of it and so slept right through past the time we were meant to go! Ah well – it was a wonderful day and there were other nights for parties.