November 03, 2022
Puerto Vallarta is getting ready to conclude the annual celebration of Día de Muertos Festival with a very special distinction from Guinness World Records under its arm. The monumental ‘Catrina’ set up on the esplanade of El Faro at the Malecon during the ten days of festivities in honor of the faithful departed, was officially recognized as "The Tallest Catrina in the World".
Surely by now you have seen a photo, a post or a reel of this unique piece of art that has gone viral worldwide on social networks. Or better yet: like thousands of people - visitors and locals alike - you may have had the great fortune to admire it live and get a selfie as a souvenir. The truth is that the Great Lady of the Malecon of Puerto Vallarta stole our hearts at the very first sight.
At some 75.5 feet high, the Tallest Catrina in the World has the heart of Vallartense, since it is an original creation of the young local artist Alondra Muca (née Alondra Murúa Carrillo.) The monumental structure was made of metal and fiberglass by a talented team of fifteen people (with the collaboration of seamstresses, carpenters, florists, architects and designers), under the direction and coordination of the artist herself.
Inspired by the traditional iconography of Día de Muertos, the eternal duality of life and death, but above all, by the natural richness of Puerto Vallarta, Alondra Muca and her team dedicated more than two months to the creation of the monumental catrina, down to the smallest detail.
Her light blue cocktail dress features marine elements that refer to the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean bathing the Puerto Vallarta shores. As it was once envisioned by the late Mexican illustrator and satirist José Guadalupe Posada back in the 19th Century, our catrina wears a wide-brimmed hat with a headdress of multicolored flowers. Even on her hands, her nails (the size of an adult's forearm!) are carefully hand-painted with motifs of fish, seashells, manta rays, seahorses...
The World's Tallest Catrina was the centerpiece of an extensive Day of the Dead celebration that, for ten consecutive days, offered visitors and locals a sample of the cultural richness of Mexican traditions.
Hotels and restaurants enthusiastically joined in the festivities with the decoration of a number of large catrinas along the Malecon. More than 80 colorful calaveritas de azúcar-like skulls (traditionally used to decorate Day of the Dead altars) were also displayed at this famous seaside walk. Each one was hand-painted with lovely details alluding to the sea, the mountains, the flora and fauna of the Banderas Bay. Some others wore the national colors of the main countries that regularly visit Puerto Vallarta.
Aromas of copal (a smoky, sweet incense of pre-Columbian tradition), incense and Palo Santo greeted and guided visitors through the altars placed in the outer corridors of the City Hall building as well as in the gazebo at the center of the main square. Altars were dedicated to Mexican heroes, in loving memory of deceased relatives and family members, or to beloved and not forgotten personalities from popular culture.
This year's Day of the Dead Festival included a complete program of admission free artistic and cultural activities that extended to other areas of the city, such as Las Palmas, Ixtapa and El Pitillal. There, it was also displayed a "mini" version of the monumental catrina on the Malecon. At 46 feet high, the skeleton from Pitillal was located in the main square so much to the delight and awe of the inhabitants of that area.
As tradition dictates, the Día de Muertos festivities concluded with the obligatory visit to the cemeteries on November 2. The surroundings of 5 de Diciembre cemetery, for example, turned into a family-like fiesta: while Vallartenses came to honor their dead, outside it was possible to find a wide variety of street vendors selling fresh Cempasúchil (Marigold) flowers, antojitos mexicanos snacks, freshly baked pan de muerto and even mariachis!
Puerto Vallarta looked spectacular during the Day of the Dead Festival with activities and events for all tastes. Which Día de Muertos events did you attend and which was your favorite?