About Day of the Dead in Mexico

This item appears on page 12 of the September 2011 issue.

I am submitting some advice about visiting Mexico around the Day of the Dead. Celebrated throughout the country on Nov. 1 (All Saints’ Day), the holiday is held to honor and remember deceased friends and family. It starts the evening of Oct. 31, goes through the night and sometimes lasts until Nov. 2.

Typically, there are large processions plus offerings of food and flowers at graves.

We received some very good advice from Cynthia, a Canadian and one of two owners of the highly rated B&B La Casa Encantada (Dr. Coss No. 15, Patzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico; phone, in US, 619/819-8398) in Patzcuaro. We corresponded with her by e-mail in an effort to learn more about the celebration and to determine room rates, etc.

In popular places, such as Oaxaca and Patzcuaro, accommodations for Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 usually must be booked nearly a year in advance, and the price is nearly double the low-season rate.

For those unable to acquire reservations, an alternative is to visit either before or shortly after the main holiday, when there is much more availability.

Beforehand, special craft and artisan fairs are set up and there are preliminary celebrations. Afterward is even better; the fairs are open for about a week more and, more importantly, the grave sites remain decorated and one can visit them at leisure without any crowds.

I was given similar advice from other hotel managers, one in Cuernavaca, one in a town near Guadalajara and one in Oaxaca.

We have not stayed at La Casa Encantada yet. Room rates run $90-$100, including a full breakfast, but there may be a 10% discount for people staying longer than a few days or during slow seasons. (As with most places in Mexico, one can negotiate a cheaper rate by e-mail if business is slack.)

Lake Quivira, KS