I woke up in Pana and spent the morning photographing the cemetary at Solola. Since the Day of the Dead is the next day, the cemetary is abuzz with preparations. Family members are busy painting or cleaning their family’s mausoleums, setting out flowers, and even treats such as alcohol, cigarettes and sweets. When the dead arrive on November 1, they tend to be very hungry and thirsty. I love the whole tradition, and it makes for great photos. I spend the morning sitting and waiting for opportunities, and photographing the cemetary in long, narrow strips of multiple images that I call “superpans”. They won’t show up well here, but will make awesome prints.
After shooting the cemetary, I meet up with a local guide, Gustavo Ramirez. I met him at the Inguat tourist office in Pana, and he is going to accompany me for the next few days. My ultimate goal is to photograph the Day of the Dead festivities in the deep Highland town of Todos Santos Cuchamatan, and I figure that a guide will help me get what I want. Gustavo is Mayan, and speaks very good English as well. He seems to know everyone, everywhere we go, so that is helpful, too.
We drive westward, stopping first to see the incredibly colorful church at San Andres Xecul. It is an incredible folk art church, painted bright yellow, and covered with folk art. I have never seen anything like it. It may be the most unique and beautiful church I have ever seen. You can keep the ornate ones, this one is cool.