Dia de Los Muertos Celebrations in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Celebrates Day of The Dead, Dia de Los Muertos. Also, What Happens When you Experience Your Own Day of The Dead in Puerto Vallarta? Death, Burials and Ashes Scattering in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

 

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Hello fellow travelers, welcome this episode of the Puerto Vallarta Travel show. I am your host Barry Kessler and I am just so happy to be introducing you to my favorite vacation destination, and maybe even yours, Puerto Vallarta Mexico.

That music you were just listing to is performed by Alberto Perez, the owner of the La Palapa Group of Restaurants. Those are La Palapa, The El Dorado Restaurant, and at night for dinner The El Dorado transforms into the ever so romantic Vista Grill with those dramatic views of the Los Muertos Pier all lit up at night in beautiful colors. Of course, at La Palapa you can enjoy that same view of the Los Muertos Pier all day long for breakfast, lunch or dinner, seated with your toes in the sand right at the water’s edge. It’s so romantic, it’s so Puerto Vallarta my friends!

La Palapa, Puerto Vallarta Mexico

 

History of Dia De Los Muertos

This week I have a show all about Día de Los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta. So, Happy Halloween on this 31st of October 2017.

What is The Day of the Dead or Dia de Los Muertos observance all about anyway? Let’s have a look at the history and the meaning of this holiday, shall we?

The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico developed from pre-Columbian times and cultures. They had rituals celebrating the deaths of

Dia de Los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

ancestors, observed by these civilizations for perhaps as long as 2,500–3,000 years.

The festival that developed into the modern Day of the Dead originally fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess known as the “Lady of the Dead”, corresponding to the modern La Calavera Catrina. Or Elegant Skull or Skeleton. Of course, the Catholic Spaniards couldn’t kill the tradition, but did manage to move the date to correspond with All Saint’s Day, so they put up with the pagan activities of the indigenous Mexicans for a change of date. Clever.

Dia de Los Muertos Was Moved From August to November 1st

By the late 20th century in most regions of Mexico, practices had developed to honor dead children and infants on November 1, and to honor deceased adults on November 2. November 1 is generally referred to as Día de los Inocentes translated it means “Day of the Innocents” but also as Día de los Angelitos or “Day of the Little Angels”, November 2 is referred to as Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos  in other words, “Day of the Dead”.

So what goes on during the Dia de Los Muertos celebrations?

Well, Mexicans often build alters in their homes to honor their loved ones passed. They invite the dead to join the family once again by offering their favorite foods, drink, clothing, that they loved when they were alive. Stuff like that. These alters are often constructed in homes or back and front yards, or at the cemetery.

What You Need to Build Your Own Alter:

  • A table, shelf or flat surface on which to build your altar
  • Two long sugar cane stalks (or other material) to make an arch
  • Boxes or crates to create different levels
  • A tablecloth and papel picado
  • A photo of the person to whom the altar is dedicated
  • A glass of water
  • Flowers, preferably marigolds
  • Fruit, bread, and other foods
  • Candles and incense
  • Things that the person you’re honoring enjoyed in life

Cemeteries in and Around Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Map of Cemeteries in and Around Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Map of Cemeteries in and Around Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Smells are really important so foods that smelled strong, and like I said, incense too. During the two days, the observant go to cemeteries to visit their dead loved ones. They clean off grave markers and tidy up a bit. Maybe they will bring flowers, often they will build alters to their dead loved ones as I said, right there. They bring the favorite food and drink of the dead. Pictures to remember them by. Sometimes you will see mariachi bands in the graveyard at midnight. It’s very strange that’s for sure. The families have a picnic and drink and have a good time. They honor the memories of their dead friends and relatives. Pretty cool.

Now earlier we talked about the “Lady of the Dead”, corresponding to the modern La Calavera Catrina. Or Elegant Skull or Skeleton.

La Calavera Catrina (‘Dapper Skeleton’, ‘Elegant Skull’) is a 1910–1913 zinc etching by famous Mexican printmaker, cartoon illustrator and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada. The image depicts a female skeleton dressed only in a hat befitting the upper class outfit of a European of her time. She is portrayed satirically as one of those Mexican natives who, Posada felt, were aspiring to adopt European aristocratic traditions in the pre-revolution era. She, in particular, has become an icon of the Mexican Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. And if you are a Grateful Dead Fan, you will recognize that smiling skeleton with the bonnet, at the same Posada Calavera Catrina character.

La Calavera Catrina

In Vallarta this year, there will be artists painting faces during the celebrations, along the streets and in special locations.

And there are many different of The Day of The Dead celebrations planned.  On the Malecon, there are many alters set up along the walk. Most of these alters are sponsored by a property or civic group, and they are quite unique with all the traditional trappings of the typical alters, others much more unique and shall we say, unique. These alters are cordoned off with crime scene tape to keep the riff raff away from the alters, but they are really cool to look at. And of course, there is always the regular excitement you see nightly on the Malecon happening, and more.

There are parades planned going down the center of the Malecon, with those bigger than life puppet figures with skeleton faces made from papier Mache marching own the streets with calavera Catrina style faces painted on them dancing along the Malecon in the parade. There are concerts at Los Arcos on the Malecon, Events at Lazaro Cardenas Park and Parque Hidalgo, the Pantheon of December 5th as well. I have a link to all of the festivities planned for the two days November 1 and 2nd.

Día de Los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta: The complete guide

Many of the theatres have special productions geared towards dressing as well as all of the bars and night clubs. Just another reason to party in Paradise. Right?

But…..What Happens If You Experience Your own Day on The Dead in Mexico?

Or how about this one, you are a lover of Puerto Vallarta, and want to have your ashes scattered or buried in Paradise? Hummm? Lots of people want that I imagine.

Let’s say that you want to bring the ashes, remains of a friend or a family member to Puerto Vallarta Mexico Mexico. What will you need to do?

 

Requirements to transport ashes to Mexico:

  •   Death Certificate and its notarized translation into Spanish
  •   Cremation Certificate and its notarized translation into Spanish
  •  Please present one photocopy of each of the above-mentioned documents.
  • Keep in mind that all translations must be notarized.
  • Consular certification of all the documents mentioned in this page is free of charge.

Then there are Airline Packaging Restrictions.

The TSA requires you…

  • Transport the ashes in a box that can be x rayed.
  • You are going to want this to be in your carry-on luggage.
  • No metal or lead lined containers.
  • Also make sure the ashes are stored preferably in a separate plastic bag.
  • All airlines have different requirements so make sure you check with your carrier before you attempt to take the remains into Mexico.

Once you are in Vallarta, with the remains of your loved one, you have options.

 Some people choose to be interred at the Vallarta Botanical Garden in the Garden of Memories

Back in July, Bob Price over at the Garden posted about the Garden of Memories……. “many people love the garden so much that they tell their loved ones “when I die please scatter me at the botanical garden”. Well we’re at 11 souls so far ( at least that we know of)! we began phase 1 of our ” Garden of Memories” this week which are memorial stones in remembrance of a loved departed, Located on a breezy hillside overlooking the Peace Garden. This will also be the site of our Dia de Los Muertos celebration. So, I have pictures of the Garden. It looks pretty cool and the Día de Los Muertos celebrations at the garden have got to be out of this world with all of the flowers they have at their disposal.

I have some information about the services offered for instance….

Vallarta Botanical Garden Garden of Memories
Vallarta Botanical Garden Garden of Memories
Vallarta Botanical Garden Garden of Memories
Vallarta Botanical Garden Garden of Memories
Vallarta Botanical Garden Garden of Memories

Celebration of Life Packages Vallarta Botanical Garden

There are other things you can do with the remains, you can scatter them by hiring a panga person to help out scattering at sea

Puerto Vallarta Boat Charter Companies

 

Launch Your Loved ones Ashes Over The Bahia de Banderas In a Brilliant Firework Display

I found a company who does private firework shows who work with a company who will load your remains into the rocket, to be exploded over the bay. The do full on firework shows of one to five minutes or longer if you want. They do parties and all that jazz, so even if you aren’t going to launch your loved one into the bay, you can hire these guys to create a private Firework show for you.

http://www.puertovallartafireworks.com/fireworks-packags-for-weddings-and-events-in-puerto-vallarta.html

I have links to them in the shownotes of this episode, so check them out for sure.

What happens if you are an expat and you die in Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta is a retirement town for American and Canadian folks, and retired people have a way of slipping off into the unknown, so, I

Pamela Thompson Healthcare Resources PV

reached out to a friend of the show, Pamela Thompson of Healthcare Resources  PV, and we have an episode with Pamela a couple of months back so if you haven’t heard that one, go back and listen to it. It’s one of the most listened to episodes I believe. So I had a couple of questions for Pamela, and here is how the question and answering went….

Contact Pamela Thompson of Healthcare Resources PV

Barry: When a person dies in Vallarta and wants to be buried there, what is required by the government?

Pamela: When someone dies here, we highly recommend working with Celis Funeral Home. They work with the family as to whether the deceased will be buried or cremated. Cremation costs $1,050 USD or equivalent in pesos. There is a Mexican death certificate created the Mexican government, only requires a Mexican death certificate.

Barry:What is required of the dead person’s family?

HealthCare Resources, Puerto Vallarta

Pamela: A Family member does not need to be here in the area but they must be contacted. Only a family member can decide whether it be cremation/burial/send body back to US or Canada. If for example, it is a person living here who absolutely does not want a family member contacted but has a friend/partner, then they need to have a special affidavit (I have a copy) filled out and notarized and kept on file with their person of confidence and as well, preferably with Celis/myself/consular agent. For Canadians, regardless – even if this document is created, the Canadian consulate will still attempt to contact family member(s). Only a family member OR the person on the affidavit (person of confidence) can pick up the deceased person’s remains. For example, if Joe Blow dies and thinks that his neighbor or friend can tell the funeral home to cremate him and pick up his ashes – this cannot be done. Things must be pre-arranged.

Barry: Also, on the scattering of ashes, are there any rules as to what is, and what is not allowed in Mexico?

Pamela: In reality it is not “legal” but the reality is that it is done all the time. I keep the number of a pangero who does this all the time – takes people out into the bay to scatter ashes.

Barry: What if there are no family members representing the deceased.

Pamela: A Family member does not need to be here in the area but they must be contacted. Only a family member can decide whether it be cremation/burial/send body back to US or Canada. If for example, it is a person living here who absolutely does not want a family member contacted but has a friend/partner, then they  need to have a special affidavit (I have a copy) filled out and notarized and kept on file with their person of confidence and as well, preferably with Celis/myself/consular agent. For Canadians, regardless – even if this document is created, the Canadian consulate will still attempt to contact family member(s). Only a family member OR the person on the affidavit (person of confidence) can pick up the deceased person’s remains. For example, if Joe Blow dies and thinks that his neighbor or friend can tell the funeral home to cremate him and pick up his ashes – this cannot be done. Things must be pre-arranged.

Listen to Pamela’s Podcast Episode About Medical Tourism

Barry: Also, on the scattering of ashes, are there any rules as to what is, and what is not allowed in Mexico?

Pamela: In reality it is not “legal” but the reality is that it is done all the time. I keep the number of a pangero who does this all the time – takes people out into the bay to scatter ashes.

Barry: How about sending bodies back to The States or Canada?

Pamela: In reality, nothing is required to take ashes on a plane. It is very helpful to have a letter from the consulate and a copy of the Mexican

Pamela Thompson, HealthCare Resources, Puerto Vallarta

death certificate but there are no TSA requirements. A body is a different story. It used to be easy to send bodies back to the US/Canada and we would send from the airport in Vallarta. No longer. Celis coordinates with the mortuary in the person’s home – or wherever they are going. Then, the body must be transported (by ground) to Guadalajara and go through specific security checks –  and there are only specific airports that can accept the body. Receiving mortuary picks up and takes to their mortuary. I recently had to send a body to Toronto to get a body to a small town in New York.

Barry: This may be another show?

Pamela: Maybe. I sometimes think I should have an office at Celis. As I said, you should have attended our End of Life Panel – we do this every year and we cover everything from cremation to wills!

List of Funeral Homes in Mexico Recommended by The US State Department Click Here For Mexican Funeral Homes Recommended by US State Dept.

The cost for burial With Celis: Price List Click Here

  • Metal casket, cemetery plot: 19,500 pesos
  • The same as above but with embalming (not usually done here):  24,500 pesos
  • Many people pre-pay for a cremation package ($1,050 USD).

I also have a price list for Celis Funeral Home in the shownotes, but their basic services include…

  • Burial cost: $1500 depending on type of casket. Fee includes hearse, chapel, transportation from place of death (within city   limits) to funeral home and to cemetery.
  • Cremation cost:  $1000
  • Sending ashes to the U.S.: $150 depending on destination
  • Shipment cost:   From $2,100 to 3,500  depending on type of casket,   weight and volume, airline, and destination in the U.S.

PUERTO VALLARTA, JALISCO:

FUNERARIA CELIS: San Salvador No. 253, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco,  Tel: (01152-322)222-1671 Fax: (011-52-322)222-2109 price quotes by Ismael Perez Madera. They have bilingual personnel.

Is There a Jewish Cemetery in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?

I asked the Rabbi at Chabad of Puerto Vallarta  if there was a Jewish Cemetery in Puerto Vallarta, and he told me that they were in the process of purchasing property for a Jewish Cemetery in Vallarta. We moved here about a year ago, and one of the things we thought would be very important, was to have a Jewish Cemetery here in Puerto Vallarta.

We met with a local cemetery here in Puerto Vallarta, Paradise Cemetery, and they have giving us the option to buy a completely separate area within their cemetery, a standalone section, which we could use for the Jewish community.

It is an ongoing project, that we intend to complete within the year. We need to raise the funds to be able to buy it.

There has been an incredible amount of interest from the local community, and speaking with many local Jewish residents, it is surprising how many of them have no plans set up for them and their family for when they pass on, which makes this project all the more important.

He continues…According to Jewish law, the body is considered holy, as it was the container and the home for the soul, thus we give it the utmost respect and attention upon death, being careful to wash it according to Jewish Law and attending to each and every part of it, as carefully as possible, in this same vein Jewish law does not allow the destruction of any Limb or organ, as would be done through cremation and the like.

We have had a few cases unfortunately this past year of Jewish visitors that have died while in Puerto Vallarta, and we were thankfully able to arrange with the funeral homes and respected consulates, the proper care according to Jewish law for these individuals.

I have links to Chabad and if you are interested in helping them get a Jewish Cemetery in Vallarta, get in touch with them!

Chabad of Puerto Vallarta

With all this talk of dying in paradise, make sure you have Travel Insurance with repatriation included in the policy to avoid having to pay an arm and a leg, to have your remains flown back to your home town, but if you choose to be buried in a place, where El Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated, every year for like three thousand years, you may consider having your remains, remain in Paradise, Puerto Vallarta.

Well, that should do it for this episode of the Puerto Vallarta Travel Show.

Next week stay tuned for more on the ground reports from Puerto Vallarta Mexico, with travel tips, great restaurant and excursion ideas and

Jose Guadalupe Posada

more.  Until then, remember, this is an interactive show where I depend on your questions and suggestions about all things Puerto Vallarta. If you think of something I should be talking about, please reach out to me by clicking on the Contact us tab and sending us your message.

And remember, if you are considering booking any type of tour while you are in Puerto Vallarta, you must go to Vallartainfo.com, JR’s website and reserve your tour through him, right from his website. Remember the value for value proposition. His experience and on the ground knowledge of everything Puerto Vallarta in exchange for your making a purchase of a tour that you would do anyway, you’re just doing it through him as a way of saying thank you. It costs no more than if you were to use someone else so do it. Really. And when you do take one of these tours, email me about your experiences. Maybe you can come on-board and share with others what you liked or didn’t like about the tour. Again, contact me by clicking on the Contact us tab and sending off a message.

And once again, if you like this podcast, please take the time and subscribe and give me a good review on iTunes if you would. That way we can get the word out to more and more people about the magic of this place. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Remember I made it easy for you to do just that with each episode I create. But if you haven’t been to my website, you really need to have a look there.  I have the links to the places we talk about, interesting pictures and the more all right there in my blog-posts and show-notes for each episode of the show so check them out for sure if you haven’t already all-right? All right.

So, thanks to Bob Parks from Vallarta Botanical Garden,  Thank you Pamela Thompson for the funeral information, and to Chabad of Puerto Vallarta, I have all the contact information for all these places in the shownotes of this episode of the show.

So thanks to all of you for listening all the way through this episode of the Puerto Vallarta Travel Show. This is Barry Kessler signing off with a wish for you all to slow down, be kind and live the Vallarta lifestyle. Nos Vemos amigos!



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