What am I still doing in Cancun?

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

Catrina con alas

Xcaret Festival de Vida y Muerte 2018 (plus Halloween in Cancun and more)


It’s that time of year again! Or it was last week, when Bebé and I went to our all-time favorite Cancun event, the Xcaret Festival de Vida y Muerte (Festival of Life and Death Traditions). This yearly event celebrates Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead, a multi-day Mexican holiday that focuses on remembering friends and family members who have passed. The festival is a colorful celebration of life and death that includes theater, dance, music, food, tours, exhibitions, expositions and workshops.

Every year one Mexican state is featured in the festival. This year that state was Zacatecas. We weren’t able to make it to the festival last year so we were very excited.

Since it worked out so well last time, I hired someone to paint our faces again, and I was very happy with the result…

maquillaje Catrina

sugar skull make-up

Bebé did not want any make-up on his mouth!

We left super early, since Xcaret is south of Playa del Carmen, and arrived right as the festival began. It’s quite a trip. You have to park far away and take a bus to the entrance, but everything is very well organized.

First order of business was to fix our make-up! Bebé smeared his sleeping in the car and the baubles on my chin fell off, but luckily there are make-up stations all over the park. (Yes, Xcaret thinks of everything.)

Xcaret Festival de Vida y Muerte

I have a lot of experience with this festival, so I planned which performances we would see ahead of time (the schedule is posted online weeks beforehand). The first performance we saw was a story told by two actors and the Xcaret dance company accompanied by live music. It was wonderful!

traditional Mexican dancing


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Recuerdos del #festivalvidaymuerte 😍💀🌸♥ #mexico #cancun #dayofthedead #diadelosmuertos #dance #baile

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It’s even more fun to go to the festival with Bebé now because he is more patient, he doesn’t get tired as easily and he really enjoys the performances. He also loves to study the map and program.

Cancun Day of the Dead events

Unfortunately my sandal broke after the performance (!!!) and I had to buy some really uncomfortable, really expensive flip-flops from the gift shop. After that was taken care of, the next order of business was to explore and take pictures!

Day of the Dead Cancun

Festival de Vida y Muerte

Day of the Dead altar

Dia de Muertos

Catrina make-up

I have been dying to have my picture taken with the huge wings at Xcaret, and what better time than when I was dressed up for Day of the Dead?

Catrina con alas

Then we were off to our next 3 performances. They were all excellent. Two were comedy and one was a Mayan legend told through dance and music.

teatro festival Dia de Muertos Xcaret

Photos: Xcaret Facebook

We never stay for the big concert at the end, maybe someday, but I had to work the next day and let me tell you it was no picnic driving back to Cancun and then taking that make-up off.

It was worth it though! Thank you Xcaret for this truly spectacular cultural event!

Halloween and more Day of the Dead in Cancun

Although it’s a U.S. holiday, in recent years Halloween has become quite popular in Mexico. Bebé dressed up as Dipper from Gravity Falls, our favorite cartoon.

There was a Halloween party at school and we also went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.

They also created Day of the Dead altars at school. (It is so beautiful but it drive me NUTS that the cross on the floor isn’t centered. LOL)

I ate pan de muerto, aka dead bread, which is yummy, sugary sweet bread, during the entire month of October, but heavenly mucbipollo aka pib, a traditional Yucatecan Day of the Dead dish is more difficult to get. We ordered some for work on November 2. Mucbipollo is made from corn dough and chicken wrapped in banana leaves. Traditionally it’s cooked in an underground pit called a pib but many people now cook it in the oven. Some of the ingredients include tomato, onion, achiotexpelon and epazote. So. Delicious.

pib Yucatan

Día de Muertos is definitely my favorite Mexican holiday. It was a fun, busy week, and now it’s time to prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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