Day of the Dead in Ecuador: A visit to another cemetery

As per Catholic tradition, Ecuador also celebrates dia de los muertos but the traditions and beliefs are different from Mexico. Unlike Mexico, it is mainly only the 2nd of November that sees people remembering the dead. However it is common to have people go to cemeteries to leave flowers off all varieties, as well as candles and small decorations at tombs. As it turns out traveling on a day like this is not ideal, after all crowds and cars are a recipe for traffic that lasts several hours. After passing one town and advancing several kilometers, the traffic would once again appear as we neared yet another town.

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Row after row of tombs stacked on top of each other

Eventually after leaving the coastal areas near Guayaquil and climbing high into the Andean mountains my host family and I  finally reached Cuenca. It was here that I got to see celebrations first-hand. Now I’m no stranger to cemeteries, so the idea of going to another one didn’t discomfort me. The cemetery in Cuenca is not the biggest one I’ve ever been to but it’s still quite large and has an abundance of mausoleums and tombs stacked up on top of each other to the point that they begin to look like buildings in themselves. Row after row of these tombs makes the area seem almost like a labyrinth, effectively a city of the dead. thousands of people crowded each and every corner, leaving flowers, praying and telling stories of people now long gone. There’s was somber wonder to the place that is hard to explain and can only be felt by experiencing it for oneself.

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Guaguas and colada morada

In the weeks leading up to the day of the dead colada morada (a purple drink made with black corn, pineapple, blueberries, blacberries..ect) begins to be solved in nearly every corner. Often it is served cold but I personally preferred it being served hot especially when erved alongside a guagua de pan (bread baby). Personally I recommend the guaguas at Panadería y Pastelería Chantilly in Cuenca because of their crunchy outside but soft inside. For that matter this bakery you can eat all sorts of delicious breads for cheap prices.

While Dia de los Muertos is overall different in Ecuador from what I’m used to, the city of Cuenca gave me a good glimpse and respect for celebrations on this special day.

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