Adherents of local traditions and followers of the Christian religion celebrate the Day of the Dead in different ways, but closer to midnight, both of them unite to go together to Mass in the nearest temple - and this is the whole of Mexico

When planning a trip to Mexico, I expected to see cacti, red deserts and men in sombreros. But, once there, I realized that all these are just stereotypes. Mexico is much more interesting, diverse and attractive than I thought. 

Although she could have remained distant and incomprehensible, if not for our guide, half Mexican. He spoke in detail about the history and modern life of the country, showed places where tourists usually do not, and completely immersed us in the local atmosphere.

The entire life, culture and religion of the Mexicans is permeated with a mix of Indian and European civilizations. For example, the Indians retained a dualistic attitude towards everything - they believe that every phenomenon and thing has its own opposite. And the Europeans brought in the Christian worldview and the Spanish language.

We were lucky to meet representatives of one of the most isolated Indian tribes - the Lacandones. Some of them live in remote places in the forest and preserve the traditions of their ancestors, the rest are in contact with the outside world and protect the former from civilization. Those we met were dressed in long white robes. They sold handmade souvenirs and welcomed tourists.

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the national holiday - Day of the Dead. It is celebrated on November 1 and 2 throughout Mexico, and in the capital these days the world famous carnival is held, the participants of which do scary makeup and put on creepy costumes. Our guide said that tourists usually take places along the street along which the carnival procession will take place a few hours before the start - this is the only chance to see what is happening. But we decided not to crowd together with other foreigners, but to go to a small town and see how the Mexicans actually celebrate the Day of the Dead - without tinsel and ostentation for visitors.

So we ended up in Okoyoakaka.

The history of the Day of the Dead dates back almost 3000 years, this tradition came from the indigenous people of Mesoamerica. The ancient Indians believed that these days the souls of their deceased relatives return to communicate. In order to show them the way, people lit candles in cemeteries and in houses, and also decorated graves with flowers - black-haired flowers, and they do this, as we have seen, to this day.

The inhabitants of Mexico regard death as a transition to another dimension, and they see no reason to grieve about the past.

In Okoyoakake, we visited the mayor. In his house, the family erected an altar in memory of a deceased relative, and on the table were candles, sweets, favorite things and food of the deceased. We were told that on the Day of the Dead, relatives gather together, and all the children (and there are five to seven of them in each family in Mexico) come to visit their parents

In the evening, when it got dark, we went to the city cemetery. Right at the entrance, dancers in colorful costumes with feathers on their heads moved rhythmically to the sound of drums. The guide said that they consider themselves to be the descendants of the Indians and are trying to preserve their culture.

At the cemetery itself, people were sitting right on the graves. There were many candles, flowers, flags everywhere. Adults and small children sang songs, talked - in a word, had fun. On this day, Mexicans bake sweet bread and other pastries, as a symbol of the fact that death is sweet and there is no need to be afraid of it.

In another part of the cemetery, there were those who were more respectful of Christian traditions. There we saw no fun - people were sad, grieved and crying. But closer to midnight, all the visitors gathered together and went to Mass in the nearest temple.

It was an amazing sight: representatives of completely different cultures and religions unite and walk side by side. This is the whole of Mexico, full of contrasts.

Another interesting experience was the temazcal. This is a Mexican bath, which symbolizes the bosom of mother earth - it is humid and dark inside. In Temazcal, the shaman conducts a ritual of purification, during which he reads ancient prayers, pours water and oils on hot stones and pours various potions on visitors. Mexicans believe that in the temazcal, the human soul is reborn, transformed. Now such baths are being opened in hotels and in the central areas of large cities, but these are more secular options. We were lucky enough to visit a real authentic temazcal. The shaman who performed the cleansing ritual said that he was doing it for tourists for the first time - because in their settlement there were almost never visitors.

Non-touristy, real Mexico makes an unusual and ambiguous impression - probably due to the fact that so many different colors, cultures and civilizations have been layered in it. But it is definitely worth a visit to try to unravel the local secrets, see mystical temples and enjoy incredible nature, where there is everything - from the jungle to wide beaches

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