One thing Tucson is known for is it's Dias des los Muertos celebrations. For anyone unfamiliar with the Mexican tradition, it's a day just after Halloween where you honor the dead. Since I'm not hispanic, all I know of the tradition is how my city celebrates.
Every year, several days after Halloween, tens of thousands of people paint up their face and parade through downtown, the All Souls Procession. At the end of the route, it turns into all out craziness; the closest comparison is that it's like a mini Burning Man festival.
This year was my first year participating. It was both more and less crazy than I imagined.
First of all, the most important part: the makeup. It was a lot of cheap face paint, eye liner doodles, and a fabulous red lipstick.
Two tips for anyone else doing Day of the Dead makeup. First, it is possible for eye liner to stain your eyebrows. Second, face paint is worth the money you pay. It was like having a face covered in lip gloss. Just like a breezy day, my hair kept sticking to it. It almost drove me insane.
My friends and I went out to dinner beforehand, half of us already in our makeup and half not. Thankfully, I brought along my makeup for touch ups after eating and the eye liner was passed around so no face was blank.
After a bit of a walk over to the parade route, we spent close to an hour just watching the parade march past us. There aren't a lot of 'floats' in the parade, but many groups have themes and some people make elaborate mini-floats, sort of single shrines carried by just one person. There were mariachi bands and bagpipe bands and high school bands and acrobatics.
After watching for a while, we got antsy jumped in! You don't fully grasp how many people are there until you're in the middle of it. With everyone made up, you could be standing next to your sister and not even know. You're just surrounded by a sea of strangers. It actually became kind of overwhelming.
We never made it to the end of the parade. By the time we had walked out of downtown and under the highway, we had been on our feet for hours and knew we had a ridiculously long walk back to the car. So, we missed the burning of the urn filled with prayers and the music and displays. We heard mixed reviews of it later, so I don't feel that bad about leaving early.
But we didn't go straight home. Nope. We stopped at a late night diner and had us some pie. In full skeleton face makeup. I wish I had gotten a picture of us, but we were already getting enough looks as it was.
One boy skeleton eating supreme lemon meringue and one girl skeleton eating coconut cream.