What am I still doing in Cancun?

The adventures of an American single mommy working and playing in paradise.

Celebrating Day of the Dead in Cancun: Xcaret, Market 23, Halloween and More


Dia de Muertos and Halloween are all over now *sigh* but we celebrated bigger than ever this year!

We began our celebrations by visiting Mercado 23 (Market 23) in downtown Cancun on Saturday the 29th to pick up a calavera de azucar (sugar skull) for the altar at Bebé’s school, some traditional Dia de Muertos candy, and well, to take pictures!

Day of the Dead flowers

Day of the Dead supplies Cancun

Day of the Dead candy

flowers Cancun

Day of the Dead altar

Unfortunately the market is now way to small for the big city of Cancun, and was surrounded by cars at a complete standstill. Never have I been so happy to see people with whistles and rags directing traffic.

This year I carefully planned our annual visit to Xcaret Park’s Festival de Tradiciones de Vida y Muerte aka their Day of the Dead festival, which is held each year Oct. 30-Nov.2. Due to my previous face painting fails, I decided to hire a neighbor to do our make-up.

Totally. Worth. It.

Catrina makeup Cancun

Bebé wanted something simpler.

Day of the Dead makeup Cancun

We headed to Xcaret on the first day, Oct. 30th, since it was a Sunday. It was a bright, sunny day in Cancun, but alas, as we got closer and closer to Playa del Carmen, it rained harder and harder. We were so upset!

I’ll spare you the gory details, but we had to park really far away and take a bus to the entrance of Xcaret, but we eventually made it. First order of business was to buy Bebé a poncho. Luckily I happened to have one in my size in the trunk.


Finally we began our stroll through the park, stopping to view exhibitions and performances, or “shows” as Bebé calls them, along the way.

Xcaret festival vida y muerte

festival vida y muerte

festival tradiciones de vida y muerte

altares Xcaret

Xcaret festival

Luckily it stopped raining soon after we got there.

It was muddy as hell, and the shows were all off schedule because of the rain but we made the best of it and had a good time. The torta de cochinita (slow-roasted pork dish sandwich from the state of Yucatan) helped a lot. Anyway, I had to make the most of my makeup, right? A lot of people smiled, waved and asked me who had done it.



The next day was Halloween and Bebé’s school threw a party for the kids. The black eye makeup that we couldn’t get off the night before turned out to be very convenient the next morning.

Halloween costumes Cancun

That evening we went trick or treating in our neighborhood with some friends.

So at this point we were basically exhausted, but the party wasn’t over, at least for me. On November 1, my boss treated us to pan de muerto (sweet bread topped with sugar) aka dead bread. It was scrumptious!

pan de muertos Cancun

Then on November 2, we had mucbipollo aka pib in the office. Guess who found a provider, ordered, and even picked up this traditional Yucatecan Hanal Pixan (Mayan Dia de Muertos) dish? That’s right, the gringa, yours truly.

Mucbipollo is made from corn dough and chicken wrapped in banana leaves. Traditionally it’s cooked in an underground pit called a pib. Some of the ingredients include tomato, onion, achiote, xpelon and epazote.

Absolutely. Delicious.

mucbipollo pib Cancun

I’m a little sad it’s all over, but we made the most of Dia de Muertos and Halloween in Cancun, and it is the beginning of the holiday season! Bring on Thanksgiving and Christmas!

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