There were only three people in my Advanced Higher Spanish class at high school, including me. The Languages department decided that on Monday mornings we could take care of ourselves, and instead of teaching us the subjunctive tense, which would have been really really useful for my future life in Spain unable to correctly use the subjunctive tense, they stuck us in front of an educational made-for-school TV show called La Catrina.
La Catrina told the truly terrible story of a girl called Jamie González, who goes to spend her summer in Querétaro in Mexico and ends up solving a mystery via dream sequences where her great-grandmother speaks to her, and becoming the heir to a bunch of land once owned by her great-grandmother. The great-grandmother was a highwaywoman (but in a good way, you know – like Robin Hood, not like Dick Turpin) and she was known as La Catrina. Jamie becomes La Catrina by the end of the series, and donates her newly-won land to the poor of Querétaro who have been all affected by pesticides, like in Erin Brockovitch.
The point here is two-fold: (1) that the above was all just a digression where I try and blame my lack of Spanish grammar on my secondary education, and (2) that La Catrina is now an icon of Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. And when I decided to do La Catrina face-paint, this is what I managed to achieve with but an eye-liner:
Fortunately, my decision to stick a bunch of Boots Stay Perfect on my face coincided with both the Day of the Dead itself (Bank Holiday Tuesday, of course!), and the Mexican Day of the Dead party happening at the end of our street. It was held in a big community-owned space called Campo de Cebada, where they hold events and fairs and stuff, and there are always dudes hanging out there with guitars and beers and stuff.
So we headed down as the light was fading, and the whole space was decked out in coloured bunting and candles and crêpe paper skulls and flowers, and it had the feeling of Bonfire Night back home except without being cold as balls and with none of those marshmallow chocolate hat things.
Below is a picture of the shrine they made to Cervantes (it being 400 years since his death this year):
I guess that made up for not going to see the Cervantes statue in Toledo on Saturday…
So we wandered around for a bit and bought beers from dudes with carrier bags, and soaked up the atmosphere and all the incense (just like in a good mass, really).
Then a mariachi band appeared, which was super exciting. They were really good and everyone was having a boogie. There’s also a mariachi band for no reason in La Catrina, but I’m sure you’ve already heard enough about that.
It was a very cool night, and also fun to get to do something on 1st November which wasn’t just going to church at school (Catholicupbringingcatholicupnringingcatholicupbringing).