Catching up.

I’m not feeling inspired to write during this trip. While I was in Cuba – I hardly had the time, but at every chance I was scratching in my journal and trying to record the emotions, revelations, sights, sounds, etc. of the little island world I had dreamt about for so long.

Mexico feels less foreign to me. It’s nice, the towns I’ve visited are wonderful, I love speaking as much Spanish as I can, the crafts and traditions are very interesting, and I’ve had the chance to spend a few evenings photographers who I’ve admired for many many years. So, I’m having an amazing time with some incredible experiences – but the drive to bring pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) has been more elusive during this trip. However, I ‘ll give it a shot this morning …

First, let’s go back to Tzintzuntzan, the town where the tradition of Day of the Dead began. Thursday afternoon, two of the photography classes piled onto a bus and took the 4 hour ride into the state of Michoacán and stopped at the graveyards of Tzintzuntzan. (Pronounced something like “sin-soon-sun.”)

Raul warned us of the crowds and activities and compared it to the 4th of July in Washington DC. We were dropped at the road that goes between two graveyards just before dark. Our class was giving a little secret tip about a “fire hockey” game played in an area you wouldn’t likely find if you didn’t know it was going to happen.

I walked through crowded graveyards full of marigolds (Caléndula, or “the flower of death), candles lighting each grave, alters of the deads favorite foods, drinks, things, etc. The families of the dead stay at the graveyard all night and prepare the way for the dead to join them.

Tzintzuntzan - Day of the Dead Tzintzuntzan - Day of the Dead
Grave DSC_0039.JPG

I quickly walked through the graveyards and snapped a few pictures. But, I was most interested in the “pelote de fuego” so I made my way in that direction to scope out the scene and planned to return to the graveyards after the game. I walked through a huge corridor of vendors and activity (I was having some serious sensory overload so I didn’t stop to look too much – but just cruised right through) before finding the park surrounded by two different churches.

Altar Blurry Church

I explored the churches a little and poked my head into the entrance to one of the market areas for a few shots before the game was to begin.

Passing by Motion Music Niños

Once it was getting dark, I wandered around the park where they were placing large candles into what was forming into the field markers for the game.

A crowd started to gather, and men in purple and red costume, painted faces, and big hockey sticks seemed to come out of nowhere and the crowded started to cheer and the flashes went wild.


The “ball” was lit on fire and placed between two players who knocked their sticks together then started swinging.

The ball of fire was maybe about a foot in diameter and from the first swing – it flew high up in the air and right past a screaming and scrambling crowd. Everyone wants to be close to the action – but of course, once the ball is flying high in the air directly toward you – people are willing to give it some space (I wish I could have recorded the screams of excitement as the crowd would bubble out to make room for the players and their fire).

It’s typical for the spectators to get burned during this game (one of the ways that this *does* feel like a foreign country) – but the crowd is still coming in as tight as possible while the game is happening. I wish I had better pictures of my own to show you what it was like – but it’s almost impossible to shoot. I will post a few snapshots of what I did get.

Purepecha Pelota de Fuego Purepecha Pelota de Fuego
Pelote del Fuego Purepecha Pelota de Fuego

The rest of my catching up is going to have to wait for another time – the roosters are cock-a-doodle-doodling and the workers are pounding on the bricks across the street. These are signs for me to get myself moving and out into the world.

¡Hasta lueguo amigos!

About the Author

I like my coffee black and my mornings early.

One Response to “Catching up.”

  1. Looks and sounds like you’re having an amazing trip down there, Amy. Great photos. Post more! Glad you didn’t get burned during that crazy looking fireball experience. Yeah, I don’t think that event would pass many safety committee inspections here in the states. Have fun and we’ll see you soon!

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