Tag Archives: Mexico

“American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummings

American Dirt book cover

American Dirt‘ by Jeanine Cummins is a work a fiction following the Lydia and her son Luca, residents of Acapulco, Mexico. Lydia owns a bookstore and befriends a mysterious man who comes and is really interested in books. Her friend turns out to be a leader of a local cartel. The problem is that Lydia’s husband is an investigative journalist looking into her friend’s cartel.

Things take an explosive and tragic turn and Lydia and son Luca have to flee for their lives quickly and she decides the only place where they can be safe is El Norte, the United States. She has to think fast, make decisions at the spur of the moment and has to trust people. Some people she encounters are very helpful, others are total crooks. The books kept me on my toes the whole time.

The most interesting part of the story is “Le Bestia” the network of freight railroads running north and south in Mexico. Le Bestia is the fastest way for the migrants, including those from South America to make the long journey. But is dangerous, it is dangerous to try and get on and it is dangerous to ride. Here is a brief CNN video about the Le Bestia, the Death Train.

I don’t want to give away the story but this book has compared to “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. I think American Dirt is a great book and certainly worth reading.

Dia De Muertes (Day of the Dead) at Tulsa’s Living Arts


November 1st I got a kitchen pass from Heather and headed out to Living Arts in the Brady District to check out their Day of the Dead celebration. I first went two years ago and I thought it was wonderful.  Dia De Muertos (Dia De Los Muertos is a back translation from English I read) is a day where people in Mexico honor and remember their relatives and close friends who have died.


Often the dead are remembered via Ofrendas (Offerings) which are altars built to honor the dead person. It may have photographs of the deceased or possessions and often contain favorite foods or beverages and if it is a child, a toy. Living Arts in their “Altared Spaces” Exhbit displayed Ofrendas made by people for their loved ones. In fact they solicit the public to put up Ofrendas.


Some were for people who had a long life and many children and grand children.


And others were for people who passed away way too young.


They were all works of art.


The Ofrenda above is for those people who died while trying to cross the border.


I love the concept of honoring lost ones with an Ofrenda.


Living Arts also had murals painted just for the event. I love them for their humorous macabre riff.


Dancing skeletons


Here is one in honor of dogs. Our dogs just don’t live long enough if you ask me.


The murals are beautiful. Even the ones with gas meters in front of them.


There was dance also. Ballet Folklorico Sol Azteca of Tulsa put on a great performance of folk dances.


The costumes were colorful


And the dancers were lively


It was beautiful and I had a front row seat for some reason.




And there was all sorts of other things going on. Food vendors, crafts, other performers. You can bet that I’ll be back next year!

Our World – Dia De Los Muertos

Saturday was a busy, busy day for the family. Heather went with her Mother to western Oklahoma to visit family. Logan has a lot of stuff going on and so he and I stayed home. So I took him to his horseback riding class, then to his Improv comedy workshop, and then to his rehearsal (Have I told you that he auditioned for and got a part in a Christmas play coming up.)

Anyways while he was at rehearsal I ventured to the Brady District north of downtown and took in the Day of the Dead celebration at Living Arts of Tulsa. I had always wanted to go and now I had my chance.


The first thing I saw were the murals. For something celebrating the dead they sure are alive. I love the big bright colors. The holiday is known as Dia De Los Muertos and originates in Mexico.


They are macabre in a friendly kind of way.


I really don’t get the symbolism.


This is my favorite.


There were two stages and lots of performances.  I saw  Ballet Folklorico Tonatiuh performing some amazing dances.

The video is only 12 seconds long. These young ladies are spectacular. It brought back some great memories of Ballet Folklorico de Mexico which I got to see during a two week stay in Mexico City when I was in high school.


As good as the murals and the performing arts were, the most fascinating thing at the show for me were the Altars or Ofrendas made to departed loved ones. The Day of the Dead is the day that the dead reunite with the living. The altars are set up in honor of the dead, not to worship them. Lots of good information here. The altar above is for Robin Williams.


This one is for the women who were convicted and executed for witchcraft at the Salem witch trials.


This one was set up in honor of dog. Note the treats and personal items and photographs. The candles are to help guide the spirit to the Altar.


Their were altars that were very personal. Note the fresh fruit and snacks which is common. The marigolds are common also.


Note the beverages which were favorites of the departed and the bread, Pan de Muerto. The dead do not eat or drink the beverages. Instead they absorb the aroma and extract the essence of the food or drink.


A suicide support group had put together an altar.

I loved the whole concept of once a year reuniting in spirit with the loved ones. I found the whole thing to be a celebration of life and an affirmation of a belief in the afterlife, rather than a macabre fascination with death.  It got me thinking, I think I might have to specify what I want on my Ofrenda. Pictures of Heather, Logan, and I on the beach would be a must. And my GPS receiver and an ammo box for geocaching, one of my many participant ribbons for my running, a sunrise photograph and one of my cheap film cameras for  photography. . Oh, yeah a Fat Tire Beer, and a Snicker’s Bar.  And a Breaking Bad DVD, along with one of Chinatown (the best movie ever made. I’m not even going to discuss it!) And don’t forget a Metallica CD, or Five Finger Death Punch.  I could go on and on.

What about you, what would your Offrenda have on it?

Our World Tuesday