Posted on

How a Bond Film Inspired The First Day of the Dead Parade

The Day of the Dead is a sacred, ancient tradition in Mexico and throughout Latin America. The annual holiday is known for its costumes and colorful decorations just recently began. If you saw “Spectre,” the latest James Bond film, you might be surprised to learn that the movie makers invented the parade depicted in the film. However, shortly after the film was released, the Mexican government took steps to make the parade a reality. Now it has become a new annual event in Mexico City.

What is the Day of the Dead?

Dia de los Muertos, translated to Day of the Dead, has been celebrated throughout Latin America for several thousand years. You’ve probably seen images of painted skull masks and thought it was similar to Halloween. Although the two traditions appear similar and they occur around the same time of year, their meanings are very different.
The people of Mexico do not view this tradition as spooky or dark. Instead, the holiday is a time for families to express love and reverence toward their deceased ancestors. Although skulls and other death symbols play an important role, the celebrations are full of lively music, dancing and color that uplifts the spirit and celebrates life.
The Day of the Dead is a much older tradition than Halloween. It originated thousands of years ago with the Aztecs and other bygone civilizations that once inhabited Central and South America. In ancient times, these cultures saw death as part of the cycle of life, and they believed that their ancestors returned to the natural world during the time of the rituals.
The tradition combines elements of ancient beliefs and modern Christianity. The ritual takes place on the first two days in November, coinciding with All Saint’s Day, a Catholic religious holiday. The central focus of the holiday are the “ofrendas,” or altars, built in homes and cemeteries to welcome dead ancestors back to the world of the living. The altars are adorned with Marigold flowers and various types of offerings to please the spirits.

How did the movie “Spectre” inspire this new celebration?

The Day of the Dead holiday is traditionally involves small family gatherings in quiet ceremonies, but in recent years, the tradition has taken on a different tone. Because of changing politics and the influence of movies and television, there have been more efforts to liven up the holiday to stimulate industry and attract tourism.
The opening scene of the James Bond film “Spectre” depicts an elaborate parade in Mexico City where everyone is wearing skull masks and death-themed costumes. The scene follows Bond as he tracks down a villain who is using the parade as a distraction. The film, which opened on November 6th, 2016, cost over $250 million to produce and grossed over $880 million at theaters worldwide.
When asked about the motivation behind the parade, Lourdes Berho, CEO of the Mexican Tourism Board, explained that the movie created expectations throughout the world. He also notes how millions of people in 67 countries saw “Spectre.” Potential tourists might be disappointed if they were expecting a spectacular parade during the Day of the Dead holiday.
The Mexican Tourism Board saw this as a way to generate tourism to the country and also to fulfill the desires of the Mexican people for more dazzling celebrations. The tourism board even acquired some of the props used in the movie for the first parade.
Authorities hope the parade could become a large event comparable to the Brazilian Carnival celebration. The famous Carnival festival, which takes place during the Catholic holiday Lent, attracts nearly five million people and over 400,000 tourists from other countries.

The First Day of the Dead Parade

The first ever Day of the Dead parade took place in 2016 on Saturday, October 29th, three days before the holiday. Like the fictional event in the James Bond film, the real parade occurred in Mexico City. It was a large, impressive event with giant floats and costumes similar to the ones in the movie. There were hundreds of performers who put on the show and a crowd of over 100,000 people attended the event.
In 2017, the city put on the parade for the second time, and it was much bigger than the first. There were about 700 performers and a crowd of roughly 300,000 spectators. Many of the attendees wore the traditional costume of the wealthy skeleton lady, La Catrina, dressed in fancy 19th-century garb.

What To Expect This Year

The parade will take place on Saturday, October 27th in Mexico City from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will begin at Estela de Luz and will end at Zocalo Square, traversing a distance of about one mile. The event will be  slightly larger than the two previous ones, with over 800 performers. As before, there will be numerous dancers, giant marionette puppets, and floats.
This year the parade will still have some recognizable elements from the James Bond film. However, the focus will be more on the themes and traditions that are commonplace for Day of the Dead celebrations. For example, the giant balloons and puppets depicting Mexican characters such as Mojigangas, Jose Guadalupe Posada and Catrina.
The parade is not only an idea inspired by Hollywood, it’s part of a larger effort to compete with Halloween. Some traditionalists in Mexico are concerned that Halloween could overshadow the Day of the Dead. Although many families in Mexico continue to enjoy Halloween festivities, the Day of the Dead tradition remains strong.

Posted on

Explore the Wonders of an Amazon River Cruise

When you think of river cruising, the first thing that comes to mind is probably intimate cruises of the Danube or Seine rivers in Europe or even cruises of the Mississippi River. However, a lesser-known option for river cruising is to cruise the mighty Amazon River. The Amazon river is truly a sight to behold, as it is not only the second longest river in the world, but it is also the largest river by volume of output, making it a truly spectacular destination for any river cruise enthusiast.

Whether you choose to cruise the Brazilian, Peruvian, or Ecuadorian sections of The Amazon, you will be exposed to the breathtaking natural wonders of The Amazon rainforest, and you will see wonderful cultural sites that have developed along its banks. If you have not previously considered an Amazon river cruise, here are just a few of the reasons to consider doing so.

Ample Ship and Line Options

boat on the amazon river
With the popularity of Amazon river cruises on the rise, more cruise lines and ships are adding itineraries along the Amazon each year. This means that no matter your tastes when it comes to cruising, whether you like something rustic, elegant, intimate, or large with lots of amenities, there will likely be a cruise that meets your needs. In fact, one of the unique things about The Amazon River is that it is wide enough, and (more importantly) deep enough to accommodate large ocean cruise
ships. This provides the perfect opportunity for those looking for the unique experiences a river cruise has to offer but who still want access to the extensive amenities of larger cruise ships.

Multiple, Unique Itineraries

amazon waterfallWith a river as large as The Amazon, you will also be able to choose from a variety of unique itineraries. If you want to see more nature and historical sites rather than large cities, then the less traveled Peruvian section of the river may be right for you. Peruvian Amazon cruises often originate in Iquitos and use more intimate vessels to explore some of the rivers more fascinating tributaries. These cruises often include a tour of the Yacapana Isles, which are famous for their iguana populations, and they also take passengers to see the Yarapa River’s stunning pink and grey freshwater dolphins. The Peruvian stretch of the Amazon is definitely for those adventurers looking for the road less traveled.
A cruise along the Brazilian stretch of the Amazon allows you to pick from a wider range of cruise lines, ships, and itineraries, and is great for those looking for a more cultural experience as you will be able to see a variety of cities and villages includes Parintins, Manaus, Santarem, and Boca de Valeria. A unique feature of booking a Brazilian Amazon cruise through one of the larger cruise lines, such as Princess Cruises or Viking, is that these lines often offer cruises that originate in Florida ports and make stops at Caribbean islands such as Barbados, St. Thomas, and St. Lucia before cruising The Amazon, allowing you to experience the best that ocean and river cruising has to offer.

The Diverse Wildlife

Monkey eating Food One of the most spectacular features of a cruise of the Amazon is the diversity of the wildlife that you will see as you travel through the jungles of the Amazon Basin. In fact, the sheer diversity of flora and fauna in the Amazon is staggering as this area contains the largest collection of living plant and animal species in the world. This region is home to 2.5 million insect species, over 10,000 species of plants, 2,000 birds, over 400 mammals, 400 amphibians, and over 300 reptiles. On a cruise through The Amazon, you will never cease to be amazed by the wonders you will see each day.

Gateway to The Inca Empire

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

One of the benefits to choosing a cruise of the Peruvian section of The Amazon is that many of these cruises include a trip to the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu at the beginning or end of the cruise. Built hundreds of years ago but not re-discovered until 1911, these Inca ruins atop a mountain have fascinated people around the world for over a hundred years. As part of your Peruvian Amazon trip, you will be able to explore these ruins for yourself and discover what has captivated travelers for a century.

The Meeting of The WatersBlack river and Solimões River

Should you choose a Brazilian Amazon cruise, one of the key features you will get to see if the meeting of the waters near Manaus. The meeting of the waters is where two major tributaries of strikingly different colors, the light brown Solimoes River and the black Negro River, come together and run alongside each other for several miles without merging. This creates a stunning visual effect where one is able to see the distinct line where these two rivers touch without intermingling, allowing for stunning vistas and photographs.

Things to Keep in Mind When Cruising the Amazon

Prepare for Rain, and Lots of It
While a cruise of The Amazon river will allow you to see amazing natural wonders, it is important to remember that The Amazon Basin is so green and alive with activity because it gets a large amount of rain; an average of 12 feet per year. You will likely encounter rain at some point on your trip so come prepared with an umbrella and light rain jacket to help keep you dry.
Bring Plenty of Insect Repellant
With all of that moisture and wildlife also comes an abundance of insects. You should consider covering up as much as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and long socks. Keep these layers thin, as it can be hot and humid, particularly during the dry season. You will also want to pack plenty of insect repellant to protect any parts of your body that are exposed.
Be Ready to Explore
While you will be able to experience breathtaking views right from your cruise ship, some of the best sights will be seen while you are on land, and you should plan accordingly by bringing clothes and shoes appropriate for extensive walking and hiking.
For those who have never explored The Amazon River Basin, you will likely be blown away by the wonders you will see on your trip.