We’ve just finished another amazing Day of the Dead celebration at the Rancho. On Monday night, our guests helped to decorate our alter and placed offerings to their loved ones on it. We shared a special six-course, themed dinner on Tuesday night. All the plates were red or orange to maintain the holiday spirit, so we served carrot soup and chicken guajillo! After dinner a Rondalla band, dressed like El Catrin (the male dapper skeleton/icon of the Mexican Día de los Muertos), entertained the guests. And on Wednesday, we escorted 14 riders through the beautiful countryside to Canalejas to enjoy the huge public event near the big church and cemetery.
“It was a party,” said Meghan from the United States. “Everybody in town came to the cemetery to spend time with the dead. I remember meeting and seeing all different family members at the cemetery on that day. It was like a celebration of life.”
“All I can say is that it was a profound experience,” said Paula who lives in the Cayman Islands but is originally from the United States. “It can be shocking at first when you go beyond the color and look at the deeper meaning. It was a time of happiness. There was lots of decorating and bringing colors and flowers. Families came together to prepare everything at the cemetery.”
Like every year at the Rancho, we visited three very different cemeteries during our ride. Initially it was an unsettling concept for some, but guests were able to see the beauty in the tradition.
“To me, it was the most culturally unfamiliar part of the experience: to sit on a horse and visit a cemetery with a mariachi band and a picnic basket at the graveside,” said Paula. “The whole thing…it’s a whole different way to look at what it means to be alive. It was life-changing for me. I think that’s one of the beautiful things about visiting a different cultural society. You have the privilege of seeing and sharing perspectives with other cultures.”
If you haven’t been to the Rancho for Day of the Dead, make sure to add it to your bucket list. But plan ahead. Rooms fill up fast. We’re already taking reservations for next year!