Mexico: A Cultural Experience in Cancun–Wedding of Catrina and Catrin
For me, Cancun has always been the Spring Break location preferred by a lot of my friends in College. It had never been a place that screamed I needed to go. Then again, neither did any part of Mexico. You can read my first experience in Mexico here: “You’ve NEVER been to Mexico?!”, where I fell in love with it.
I was given the opportunity to experience Cancun. I was impressed. As mentioned in previous posts, I’m not too big on All Inclusive Resorts. Until these… hello. Sign me up. I’ll stay forever, please. The location of these resorts were beautiful. The only thing that a beach lover (like myself) had against a few of these resorts, was the sargassum–a type of seaweed that has invaded Mexico and the Caribbean. Now this is something Mother Nature has done, it is said that the hurricanes of last year disturbed the seaweed and has brought it to the top. I watched as these resorts were cleaning up the beaches from Sunrise to Sunset. (At a few of these resorts, the smell was just so.) You can see some of the beach conditions at Webcams de Mexico. We were able to go to the beach one day, and the next day it was swarming with it.
Now, mind you. I absolutely love the beach, and I will go in the water no matter what. Let’s just say I became a mermaid. As a woman with curly hair, trying to get some of that seaweed out was absolutely exhausting and there may have been a slight panic attack; this isn’t the green slimy seaweed, this is the orange, super tough seaweed–so I was pulling my hair out trying to get it unraveled out of my hair.
The day we got to Dreams Riviera Cancun, we were greeted by what felt like the whole staff, wedding coordinators, and even the General Manager, in a true Red Carpet Hollywood Form, with clapping, and waving, with a moist towel, and an alcoholic signature beverage, it seemed like this red carpet was endless (as someone who does not really like to be in the middle of this many people–especially when you’re hot and sticky, I was ready to be at the end–which seemed to have never ended.) We waited until all of us were in, when we were greeted. At the end of the “runway” there were two Beautifully decorated Skeletal Persons. In traditional Mexican attire on stilts. They were beautiful. This was something I loved about Mexico–the traditions.
As we toured the property, we were met by La Danza de los Viejitos (The Dance of the Little Old Men). Instantly, I knew that this property loved their culture! We then went to this little marketplace, where there were hand-made gifts, drinks (such as horchata and mango to name a couple). There was a tequila testing, they were hand making tortillas for tiny tacos, and they were brewing Abuelita Hot Chocolate, which I knew instantly when I walked over to them and was able to smell it. They seemed to be impressed. (If you have never had Abuelita Hot Chocolate, find it, buy it, and make it. It has to be the bar with milk–to make it correctly.)
After the market place we sat down at the beautiful Wedding Arch on the beach, and waited for the other guests to arrive. The air cooled off slightly, and we had this beautiful sea breeze. We had no idea what was coming.
The presenter began telling us about the story of Catrina and Catrin–that they had died on the day of their wedding and were never able to celebrate it. “So today, you are invited to celebrate their wedding.” Goosebumps and chills.
Now, there may not actually be one particular story of La Catrina–it is said to have originally been created by Jose Guadalupe Posada in 1910 of a skeleton who wanted to renounce her Indian heritage and dress in French garbs. Then to be recreated by Diego Rivera in 1948 in his mural, Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Centra. Since then, La Catrina has been a part of Mexican Heritage depicting Death, and how it is handled, and has played a pivotal role in Dia de los Muertos.
El Catrin walked up to the arch with the Officiant as a flower girl threw rose petals down the aisle, where La Catrina was walked down the aisle with her Father. It was a beautiful ceremony–it was a real bilingual wedding (which I absolutely LOVED! Since someday my wedding will most likely be bilingual). At the closing of the ceremony there were fireworks. And I mean, big, real fireworks.
As we began our walk from the ceremony to the reception. We stopped at this beautifully decorated tree. As Mariachis played, we noticed there was a piñata. A piñata is a container made of papier-mâché, pottery, or cloth that is filled with candy and small toys that people (of all ages) would hit for it to open as someone would raise and lower it, so we could run and grab all the items that fell to the ground. Growing up, I went to a lot of birthday parties that had them. One of my colleagues was celebrating her birthday so she was the first person to be able to hit the piñata. She was given the choice to do it the traditional way (blindfolded with a stick, and turned around so they are slightly disoriented), or the modern way (without a blindfold and with a bat). Since we were in Mexico, she decided to do it the traditional way.
We all sang the piñata song: Dale, dale, dale, no pierdes el tino; porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino…
We then made our way into the reception hall, which was decorated beautifully with many flowers and a dance floor and screens hanging from the wall. As we all sat down we just gawked at how beautiful this was. There were musicians and a singer getting ready to perform. We were all seated around people that we did not know, so it was really nice to talk to new people and learn more about the Mexican Culture. We began with wine, as we watched La Catrina and Catrin take their first dance. There was smoke, and there were indoor fireworks (this time they were off the stilts). It was such a cool experience at this point.
Then there was a presentation of what we would be eating in this six-course meal. That’s right SIX. I have an unfortunate seafood allergy, so my dishes were slightly different. But every single thing we ate was local, from the different Mexican States. It was amazing–and the food was absolutely delicious, and beautifully presented. We had a whole staff who brought the food out table by table (luckily, I was at table one, so we got our food first), and cleared our food first. No one was rushed. They had perfect timing.
Unfortunately I was completely starving, and didn’t get a chance to take a picture of all the courses (especially the beginning courses). By the time we got to the palate cleanser, I was so full, and realized we still had quite a few more courses to go!
The food was probably ranked as THE best food I’ve ever had. And I come from a house of chefs (not really, but my parents are really good cooks, they should open up their own restaurant). This chile pepper was coated in green “chile” pepper chocolate with some sort of custard on the inside. It was by far my favorite thing I had eaten the whole trip.
I love cultural experiences. I believe that every vacation should have an experience of some sort of the local culture. Whether you’re trying a local dish or favorite, or taking a language class on your trip, or even just talking and getting to know a native of the place. It is good to know where you’re going and to come back with something from there (other than just a souvenir). Being able to talk about a cultural experience is great. I have been talking about this event since I got back. And I know I’m not doing it justice. But this was an experience I will remember for years to come.