When I arrived to Vancouver I had to decide whether to give up my Mexican food habits. I had three options: I could hit Tex-Mex restaurants everyday. I could pay huge amounts of money for imported products at special grocery stores or I could give up altogether and learn to eat other kinds of food.
My roommates are all Mexican. I have seen how one by one, all of them had to quit jalapeno peppers and started eating curry or whatever is on sale. All the Latin American stuff that we used to consume back home is either hard to get or expensive.
That´s why when my friend Maria told me that she was planning to set an altar for the “Día de Muertos” (Day of the Dead) celebration, my first question was: that sounds good but is it gonna be a Taco Bell style altar?
I mean, where in Vancouver can we get “papel picado”, sugar skulls and Virgin Mary candles?
You´ll see, this is a really important celebration for Mexicans. This is the day where the souls of our loved ones come and visit us once a year. We prepare the food that they used to eat, the “pulque” they used to drink and offer them a big feast. It is really a big deal.
To my surprise, Maria´s altar looked like the ones I saw when I was a little child.
I needed to visit the place where Maria had bought all her stuff, so the next day she took me to “Tierra del Sol”. This store is completely dedicated to selling Latin American handcrafts.
The music in the store sounds like some Putumayo record. The place is packed with clothing, jewelry and handicrafts. Everywhere you look at, you will find hanging devils, gecko mirrors, Che Guevara memorabilia and Pancho Villa pictures. All together, the sparkling colorful objects look exactly like a Mexican market.
One of the stars of “Tierra del Sol” is Frida Kahlo. The Mexican painter is printed in handbags, t-shirts and posters. Mexican wrestlers, Virgin Mary and José Guadalupe Posada´s La Catrina are popular as well.
The store is located in Commercial Drive, probably the hippest drive in Vancouver. In this bohemian neighborhood you won´t find a big mall, you´re more likely to find an Ethiopian restaurant or a vegetarian taqueria.