Dia de los Muertos (DDLM) or the Day of the Dead is a traditional holiday in Mexico when deceased friends and family members are remembered and celebrated. It is a poignant time, both solemn and joyous, with colorful artistic traditions, pageantry, and whimsy despite the sobering subject. Dia de los Muertos is a joyful remembrance in which death is recognized as a natural part of the cycle of life.
In the arts, everyday life is represented in skeletal form. A common symbol of Dia de los Muertos is the skull or “calavera” often represented in masks, candy, and other curios. Traditional activities include making sugar skulls decorated with brightly colored icing, papel picaco (cut paper banners) and paper mache’ masks and figures. Some people believe possessing Day of the Dead items, like tattoos, dolls, sugar skulls or jewelry, can bring good luck.
Souls of the deceased return to visit loved ones on the days of October 31-November 2. In preparation for the reunion, families create altars to honor the deceased with ofrendas (offerings) of yellow marigolds, memorabilia, photos, favorite foods, beverages and trinkets of the departed. Religious and spiritual symbols, like the Christian Cross and Virgin Mary often adorn altars, as well.
Because it is a national holiday in Mexico, schools and government offices close, and the streets are decorated. People, young and old alike, participate in the festivities: parades, dancing in the town square, and processions to the cemetery. At the cemetery, the spirits are honored with music, dancing, poetry and stories. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as people recall funny events and stories about the departed. In some areas of Mexico, they picnic or even sleep at the gravesite.
This celebration has gone on for centuries in Mexico. By presenting the Dia de los Muertos festival and educational programming, we are providing an opportunity for people to learn about this rich cultural tradition of Mexico, to create a connection to our past, and to honor and celebrate the deceased.
Our DDLM Festival assists with cultural tourism by drawing artists, vendors, musicians, and festival-goers to Corpus Christi and to the downtown area. To enhance our DDLM programming, K Space Contemporary has added cultural art workshops during the month of October and a fine art exhibition. During November, a thematically associated exhibition will be displayed in the main gallery, including the Extravagancia de Piñatas, a contest and exhibition of piñatas constructed by area K-12 schools (groups/art classes/art clubs). These student groups compete for cash awards for classroom supplies.
The 7th Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival was held Saturday, November 1, 3 pm to midnight! The festival is held in the 400-500 blocks of Starr and 500-700 blocks of Mesquite Streets in downtown Corpus Christi. Everyone is encouraged to wear a costume. The event includes live music, Mariachis, Folklorico dancers, Hecho a Mano Art Expo, Kids’ Activities, community altar, food, drinks and more. Texas A & M University Art Department’s “Hold Steady Iron Pouring Crew” will be on hand offering visitors a chance to create their own miniature iron sculpture while the Printmaking Department will be print customized t-shirts. A community altar is located inside K Space Contemporary.
Many of Corpus Christi’s favorite artists will be on hand selling their work and El Dia de los Muertos themed items.
The Hecho a Mano Art Expo features over 75 artists offering everything from jewelry to sculpture to all kinds of Dia de los Muertos related trinkets. Those that are interested in being a vendor will find guidelines and registration information under “Vendor Information” on this website.
We are accepting sponsors and seeking volunteers. Sponsorship information is available at http://www.diadelosmuertoscc.com. Anyone interested in volunteering may call (361)887-6834.
Dia de los Muertos Street Festival is coordinated by the Electra Art*Axis Tattoo, K Space Contemporary, Corpus Christi Downtown Management District, and House of Rock. Proceeds from the event benefit K Space Contemporary, a 501 (C) 3 non-profit arts organization.
Keeping September is usually our rainy month, and has not let us down this year in the Coastal Bend. The skies have put on a show of their own. These were snapped with my phone, but you can see the cloud formations are really cool.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in Port Aransas for a few days for a teacher workshop at University of Texas Marine Science Institute. While there we were learning a bit more about our coast. During a break, another teacher and I went for a stroll next to the Port Aransas Ship Channel. We met a guy with scuba gear on. I asked him if he could see much. He said sure, as long as the boat traffic remains low. Once that happens, sediments get stirred up, and the water gets a little murky.
The next day, a couple of teachers and I bring our snorkeling gear with and vow to go check things out for ourselves either during lunch or after the workshop was over. We snorkeled by the rocks and by the UTMSI pier and found some fun stuff:
After a decent session of snorkeling, the boat traffic picked up and the waves were rocking us toward the rocks. When getting out, I just had to be wary of the sharp barnacles.
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised to see what I did. Now, it is not Caribbean snorkeling, but it was still pretty good for our area.
Running. For me, it is a necessary evil. I am not a natural runner, but I run to try to stay somewhat fit, and to try to keep up with my young children. So there are times when I rather not do it, but if I don’t I wished I had.
One way to make running a pleasurable experience is to run outdoors. If you are lucky as I am, it is great to go run at the beach. However, some beaches are better for running than others. While I was in the Caribbean, I got the pleasure to run the beach, but I really had to watch out where I was going since there were occasional rocks, anchors for boats, and uneven spots. I sprained many an ankle, and trust me, it is not fun.
North Padre Island is a pretty good spot for running. For the most part, the sand is usually well packed which helps for a decent run. I say try to go during low tide, so consult the tidal reports on the news or internet. Also, there is usually not a huge slant near the shore which helps if you tend to get hip or knee problems. Just watch out for the occasional hole dug for the mote of a sandcastle or the sandcastle itself, for that matter.
Running at the beach also gives the body more resistance, so you get a better workout. If you are really wanting a challenge, run in the loose sand or in the shallow part of the water. You will feel the burn in your legs.
Speaking of burn, be sure to slather the sunscreen, wear a hat, and sunglasses so you will want to go for it next time.
What I like about running at the beach is that you can run pretty much any time of day, and not feel too hot. If I run mid-day, I will carry a bit of water just in case. I wear Fila “toe shoes” that can get wet, so sometimes I run into the very shallow part of the shore. There I make my own “a/c” with the wind and the sea spray I kick up while running. What is great is that if you dressed in quick dry clothing, you can just jump in to the waves afterward! A great reward for a good run!
So, to make pleasure from a chore, run by the shore!
Late July until sometime close to Winter is my favorite time on the beaches of North Padre Island. Why? This time of the year is when the clear, blue water finally comes onshore. Early Spring and Summer, you can see the blue water off shore, but the waves churn up the sediments and the water is murky. Also early Spring brings the mats of seaweed or Sargassum onto the shores of Texas beaches. Late summer the Sargassum seaweed begins to abate to reveal clean beaches.
However, this year we had a long invasion of this golden-brown weed all the way into July here in the Coastal Bend. Yes, it can be downright gross on the beaches for tourists and locals, but sea turtles and fish love it. The floating mats of it offshore provide a mobile habitat for marine life as drifts to shore.
So this is the time to enjoy the pretty blue water on the shores of North Padre Island. The winds tend to let up unless there is a hurricane or tropical system and the seaweed gives us a break from fuzzy beaches of Spring. Just last weekend I spotted a few snorkelers checking out the fish by the rocks of the jetties by the north side of Packery Channel.
So take a little time and enjoy the beach this time of year! I know I will!
Happy 4th! North Padre Island National Seashore released more turtle hatchlings this morning, and gave a short educational program at the visitors deck.
To see the newly hatched Kemp’s ridley sea turtles: Kemp’s ridley eggs are just starting to hatch, and the hatching process can take several days. The exact dates of the releases depend on how quickly the eggs hatch, and how the hatchlings become ready for release. It’s all up to the hatchlings. The park usually does not know that they will have a release until the day before.
Public releases are held starting at 6:45 a.m. on the beach in front of the Malaquite Visitor Center at Padre Island National Seashore on North Padre Island. Call the Hatchling Hotline at (361)949-7163 for the latest information on the release oer visit their website at www.nps.gov/pais for the projected release dates. The nesting season could continue for three more weeks.
If you get up early to enjoy the turtle releases, just don’t come back to the national seashore with your fireworks, firecrackers, or sparklers. The park announced that those items are prohibited on park lands and are subject to seizure. If you want to enjoy fireworks, Padre Island is having their own second annual display on the main canal by Three Fathoms Bank. Last year we could see the display all the way from the ‘Bluff, so enjoy the display tonight!! Happy 4th!
Yes! Not only do we have one, but one of the few thriving coral reefs left in the world!
It’s kind of a well kept secret here.
…And who would guess off the coast of Galveston?
Some say traveling to Texas “is like a whole other country” with the biodiversity this state has. We may not have the most gorgeous state in the union, but we do have variety. Many people travel the world to see what we have in our own backyard. Growing up in Houston, I had heard of the Flower Gardens, but never had gone there. Also, not that many people really knew that much about it. Going to Galveston as a kid, and playing in the murky water, it is hard to image a natural, lush tropical coral reef just miles off shore.
Pretty cool, huh?
Just as a side note, the Nearshore project has been working on man-made coral reefs by sinking ships and other objectsto attract marine life just off the coast of Port Aransas and South Padre Island. So now you can dive Texas.
Read the article from KHOU 11 News:
by Doug Miller / KHOU 11 News khou.com
Updated Wednesday, Jun 11 at 10:46 PM
GALVESTON, Texas — When you think about Galveston, you probably picture sun and surf, maybe the Pleasure Pier or sometimes seaweed, but you probably don’t think about great diving.
Small wonder, when you consider what you see when stand on the seawall and look at the murky chocolate water splashing ashore. But if you go about a hundred miles offshore, you can dive in crystal clear blue water as beautiful as anything in the Caribbean and behold a natural wonder so stunning fishermen a century ago nicknamed it the Texas Flower Garden.
“A lot of people are surprised to find out that there is an exceptional coral reef off the coast of Texas,” said G.P. Schmahl, the superintendant of the Flower Garden Banks Marine Sanctuary. “When people come down to the shoreline in Galveston and other parts of Texas and see the kind of brown, muddy water, it doesn’t even occur to them that there could be a coral reef in these waters,”
In fact, the coral reefs in the sanctuary host a colorful collection of sea life divers travel the world to behold. Curious manta rays and spotted eagle rays approach divers. Colorful parrotfish share the ecosystem with moray eels. And the concentration of coral is larger than anywhere else in the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean.
“What I love to see is divers who’ve never been there,” said Emma Hickerson, a NOAA research coordinator working on the sanctuary. “And the first time they come out of the water with these huge grins on their faces. And they said they have no idea what was out here. And mostly, they say, ‘Wow! There’s so much coral!’”
The sanctuary actually encompasses three separate areas, underwater salt domes that stand higher than the surrounding ocean floor. Snapper and grouper fishermen who saw the colorful sponges and other marine life under their boats are credited with discovering the ecological wonder in the late 19th century. The area was designated as a national marine sanctuary in 1992 and it’s now managed under the direction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“People will travel the world to see what we have right here off the coast of Texas,” Hickerson said. “So people will travel the world to see manta rays, tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks, spotted eagle rays, and we’ve got them right here at the Flower Garden Banks.”
At a time when coral reefs around the world are in decline, Flower Garden Banks is thriving largely because it’s so remote it attracts comparatively few divers. National Marine Sanctuaries researchers who routinely visit the site in a specially designed $3.8-million vessel say they’ve found fragments of clay pigeons on the reef indicating visitors have shot skeet off of their boats in the area. But they say most of the thousands of divers who visit every year take care to avoid disturbing the ecologically sensitive site.
“The Flower Garden Banks Marine Sanctuary is what the Great Barrier Reef used to look like.” said Bill Kiene, a NOAA scientist working with the sanctuary. “It is actually one of the healthiest coral reefs in all the western hemisphere. And it’s very close to Galveston.”
But even for experienced divers, an expedition to Flower Garden Banks can prove challenging. Strong currents churn through the gulf waters surrounding the reefs, which lie about 60 feet beneath the surface.
Still, the dive can be especially rewarding on the one night in August – seven to ten days after the full moon — when the coral spawn.
“It looks like an underwater snowstorm.” Hickerson said. “Every year we get witness the birth of a new reef. It’s a most spectacular event to see.”