«Passing through the arch of the entrance to the cemetery, one can not only see, but also feel the difference upon entering. The Pomuch Cemetery in Campeche, is a very special cemetery where death is seen differently than in most of the world. It is not seen in the terrifying way that many European cultures see it, nor the sarcastic or sometimes mocking way in which it occurs in the center of Mexico. There are no Catrinas here, only respect and a feeling of love and longing for those who have left. It is a tribute paid through a millennial act: La Limpieza de Huesos del Cementerio de Pomuch (The Cleaning of Bones in Pomuch Cemetery).» said Erik Mendicuti, a tourist consultant of Campeche.
One of the most representative and mysterious traditions of Mexican culture is, without doubt, Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead). It is a unique and original celebration worldwide that celebrates loved ones who are no longer present in body, but rather exist in spirit and mind. November 1st is dedicated to the souls of children who have passed and November 2nd is dedicated to the souls of the adults. In Mexico, this emblematic tradition is not lost. Depending on the area, it is honored and celebrated differently.
In Campeche, specifically in the town of Pomuch, in the northern region of the state, there is a very characteristic celebration carried out during these mystical dates. The special celebration is the cleaning of the bones of the deceased, a tradition with roots in Mayan culture. Some foreigner feel as though it is an insult not to let their loved ones rest in peace, but for the local people of Pomuch it is a normal way to pay tribute and honor to those who have passed. When a person dies and they are buried for 3 years, exhumed on día de Todos los Santos (All Saints’ Day), and then their bones are placed in a wooden box inside a niche, to be cleaned by their relatives every passing year thereafter.
For Mayans, death does not mean the end of life, rather it is a cycle within the universe. Death is like a long journey within the eternal journey. Nothing ends with death; it is a transformation, a change of place that may take place in the same world, where we find ourselves, but in a different time. The Mayans believe in rebirth (ka’a put siijil), and that the souls return to the earth every year to enjoy a week of holidays with their relatives. It is customary to dedicate prayers and meals to them, hence the custom is known as the Janal Pixan or «food for souls», and día de los muertos.
In our culture, the celebration of the dead is history and religion. In this town of Campeche there is a belief that, if the family does not clean the bones during the first two days of November, the spirit will go into fury and you will be able to see it roaming the streets of Pomuch.
It will truly be an enriching experience if you have the opportunity to visit Pomuch during Day of the Dead. After all, such a custom is reported nowhere else in the Mexican Republic. The respect and physical preservation of the deceased is the main reason why this wonderful tradition continues.
Information to visit the Pomuch Cemetery in Campeche:
How to get to Pomuch Cemetery in Campeche?
It is located 53 km (1 hour approximately), from Campeche.
What to do in Pomuch on Day of the Dead?
You can walk through the town or get on the tricitaxis that will take you to the cemetery. It is advisable to delight your palate with handmade artisanal bread and try the cochinita pibil that is still made in stone ovens under the ground called «pib«, and to finish this route of flavors, it is essential to take a dip in the crystalline waters of the springs in the Ich Ha Lol Xaan ecotourism center.
Where to stay in Campeche?
Here are several options to help you decide which one best fits your needs. Our recommendations are based on our own experiences and the links go directly to the sites with the lowest market rates.
Housed in an old 18th century mansion, this beautiful hotel combines history with modernity. Staying here is like traveling back through time. It has the feeling of visiting a family member, rather than staying in a hotel. The location is magnificent and the breakfasts are one of its great virtues. It is ideal for couples. For more information and reservations click here.
Located just a few minutes from the historic center and overlooking the boardwalk, this hotel is perfect for those looking for something much more contemporary and with all the amenities that modern travelers desire. It is ideal for couples, solo travelers or business trips. For more information and reservations click here.
This accommodation has high ratings and is a great low-cost hotel in Campeche. Guests get more out of their money compared to other accommodations in the same city for hotels with 4 stars like this. For more information and reservations click here.
City Express Campeche is 200 meters from X’much Haltún Botanical Garden and 300 meters from the sea. The historic center of Campeche is about 600 meters away. All rooms at the City Express feature functional décor and couples love it. For more information and reservations click here.
For more information: http://www.campeche.travel/
Learn more about the Day of the Dead celebrations of Mayan culture in this article Hanal Pixan, el día de muertos de los mayas