I wanted to start off Part 2 with the primary reason we were actually in San Miguel….to create art!!! Our collaborative project this year was called El Santo Real, The Royal Saint/Santos. We had three areas at Casa de la Noche that were transformed into classrooms. There were 4 workshop days and we needed every minute of everyday to complete this very complex project!
Lynn taught sculpting with paper clay and students made amazing heads for their santos.
In Helen’s class, students created the center torso/box with a book on it, of course! That’s Helen’s motto, “put a book on it”! In Elitia’s class, participants learned the art of pewter embossing and made beautiful crowns and wings for their santos.
Each day lunch was provided in the courtyard of Casa de la Noche and Barbara, our hostess, could not have been more accommodating. The lunches were delicious!
On the final day of the retreat we had a student showcase and reception. It was so amazing to see the fruits of everyone’s labor with their incredible Santos. Each one was so different, unique and full of personality! It was so rewarding as teachers to see the amazing creativity and skill. Here are just a few of the 30 Royal Santos that were created!
The other reason we were in San Miguel was to be a part of the celebrations for Dia de los Muertos. It is a magical time of year to be in San Miguel…..altars spring up all over town, front doors are decorated with flowers and this town that is already as colorful as can be, just about bursts at the seams with a riot of color and pageantry.
My sister and I were just lucky enough to happen upon the Monarch Parade as it went by!On the afternoon of November 1st, we visited the Guadalupe Cemetery for what is always a very powerful experience. It is a time of year when families freshen up the graves of their loved ones and bring replicas of things they loved. They sell a variety of small sugar skulls and Day of the Dead miniature food, drinks, etc.
Families gather at the gravesite and often mariachi bands play music. There is laughing and crying and it is a very moving thing to witness and be a part of. Later that day we began the preparations for the evening’s activities which included parades and performances up at the Jardin. Many students had their faces painted in the traditional “calaca” or skeleton style and others dressed the part! (this was actually on Halloween night)
Throughout the evening we met up with groups of students, friends and complete strangers who immediately bonded with our merry band of Calacas! It was an amazingly wild and crazy night made all the more fun by joining in with painted faces. We had talked about doing this for years so it was fun to finally make it a reality and I am sure it will become a longstanding tradition now!
As our retreat came to a close a few days later, we celebrated with a final, farewell dinner at one of our favorite places, Mi Casa, with a beautiful view of the night-lit Parroquia. It was a truly special evening with music, margaritas, yummy food and new friendships that were forged.