Local Exposure – Global Reach: Mexico’s Day of the Dead

by Chicago Agent

by Michael Bauknecht

The opportunities continue to grow in the global market of real estate.

I have been fortunate to grow my list of trusted resources in other countries since I have been focusing on real estate and international affairs in emerging markets and transition economies.

When you are representing properties or referring clients to brokers anywhere your reputation will be based on experiences that people have with the services and contacts you arrange.

The Riviera Maya area in Mexico has some of the best beaches in the world and the expected tourist increase from roughly 2.9 million to 11 million by 2020 makes the perfect scenario for a purchase before there is a supply constraint knowing the demand is set to surge.  A new international airport is on the way in Tulum and major road improvements between Cancun’s International Airport and Tulum are well advanced.

Directly in the middle sits Playa del Carmen.  My life long friend and broker Elizabeth Gregg; Owner of Elimar Properties (www.elimarproperties.net) for sure is the “go-to” contact in the Riviera Maya region. Eli was a successful Chicago Realtor with Property Consultants for 10 years before starting her brokerage in Playa seven years ago.

Cancun, Cozumel, Playa and the entire region down to Tulum are covered with her extensive knowledge and experiences through the years.

While the U.S. state department has issued travel warnings to parts of Mexico, it concerns visits to very specific places, largely confined to the Mexican states along the border with the U.S.  The state department clearly states that most of Mexico is perfectly safe as long as you follow common sense precautions.  Unfortunately, after hearing “warning” and “Mexico,” many Americans go deaf and think the warning applies to the whole country, which it definitely does not. In fact, most Mexicans are warm and welcoming to tourists, and the country offers not just beautiful beach resorts, but magnificent pre-Columbian ruins and exquisite colonial cities.

For information and ratings a great resource can be found at the Bureau of Consular Affairs website: www.travel.state.gov.

I have found that one of the best times to travel is just before the green seasons begin in places like Costa Rica and Mexico. The flights and rooms are substantially less and Halloween is seriously a fun time to travel, especially to Playa del Carmen.  The Halloween parties and the Day of The Dead celebrations are colorful and fun.

Here is a post from Elizabeth Gregg at Elimar Properties:

Would you care for a slice of ………………………………..Death?

“Days of the Dead in Playa del Carmen”

By Elizabeth Gregg


Elimar Properties


To those of us who have grown up north of the border to name a dessert “Pan de Muerto” or “Bread of the Dead” might seem a bit peculiar.  But here in Mexico it’s perfectly normal to see bread that looks somewhat like the head of a cadaver on every shelf of every bakery and in every supermarket.  Pan de Muerto is just one part of the festive holiday in Mexico known as “Los Dias de Los Muertos” or days of the dead.

Los Dias de Los Muertos are celebrated on November 1st and November 2nd each year.  But the festivities tend to begin weeks earlier with statues, candies, breads and other gifts in the shapes of skulls and cadavers being offered almost everywhere.  The Days of the Dead are a happy holiday when the souls of the departed come back from Heaven, Hell or Purgatory to join their loved ones here on Earth.  Tears are not recommended as it is said to cause a slippery journey back to Earth.

There are many celebrations that are held around these dates and one of my favorites is the creating of the “ofrenda” or the altar to honor those who are returning home from the dead.  Customarily, the family cleans their home thoroughly and begins the process of setting the table.  The table is covered in a fine white cloth and decorated with colorful tissue.  The altar is adorned with a candle for each lost loved one to help guide them home.  Photographs of the loved ones are placed on the ofrenda along with their favorite foods, sometimes their favorite liquor, crucifixes, a favorite article of clothing, flowers and of course salt and water to quench their thirst.

The festivities begin with the celebration of Halloween on October 31st which includes costume parties and parades.  Most costumes are cadavers and other death symbols like mummies and vampires.  The introduction of secular costumes just started taking place in recent years as a result of Halloween influences from the US and now Mickey, Dora, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe are popular also.

I live in Playa del Carmen which is on the Mexican Caribbean coast just south of Cancun.  The Halloween party atmosphere here is so strong you can taste it!  On Halloween night La Qunita Avenida (the 2 mile long pedestrian walk way) becomes the center of the universe with a Mardi Gras-type atmosphere of costumes, dancing, eating, drinking and otherwise acting silly.  It’s perfect for the adult who loved to dress up as a kid and hasn’t put on a costume in years.  The Halloween Festival in Playa del Carmen is second only to New Years Eve Night which is another story in and of itself.

Originally from Chicago I practiced real estate starting in 1994 up until 2003 when I sold everything I owned, threw my 2 German Shepards into the back of my Forerunner and headed south.  Since then I have been operating a boutique real estate business in the heart of “Playa”.  Our services include: property sales, buyer representation, closing and escrow services (provided by Stewart Title Riviera Maya), appraisals, professional staging, professional real estate photography, property management, vacation rentals, concierge, travel assistance, custom vacation rental marketing, property maintenance and repairs, loans for Mexico Properties (provided by Bancomer BBVA-Compass Home Financing), and last but not least…..helping you relax on a gorgeous white sand beach.

Since the start of this endeavor I have dedicated my practice to following the ethics code enforced by the National Association of Realtors in the U.S.  This is something that is very important considering that there is no education or license necessary to practice real estate in Mexico.  Getting to know your Realtor is key!

So what do you say………..Are you ready for a slice? Happy Dia de Los Muertos!

Michael Bauknecht is an International Real Estate Specialist, Certified International Property Specialist candidate and Board of Directors member of FIABCI the International Real Estate Federation’s Chicago Chapter; serving Chicagoland …And Beyond. He can be reached at [email protected]

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