Last week, a dozen South Coast residents gathered in Pescadero to prepare cups of remembrance for the community Día de los Muertos ofrenda (altar) celebrating the that honors the dead.
But as the group settled in to draw designs on their cups and cut papel picado (Mexican cut paper art) commemorating their loved ones, talking about who they were remembering this year and why — the memories of those who had passed on hovered in the air.
The altar will be unveiled on Thursday at the final of the season, and is a result of weeks of preparation which have involved making traditional , the cups of remembrance, papel picado and the pan de muertos (bread of the dead) which will be made tonight.
Lourdes Gonzalez was drawing a yellow horse on her cup. She said the horse represented her grandfather Juan Garcia, a man from Lomato in Guanajuato who was a farmer and grew corn.
"He loved horses," she said.
Gonzalez, originally from the town of Agua Tibia de Ayala, lives in Pescadero.
She was also drawing a design remembering her brother Jose Morales, who died at the age of 10 after being run over by a car in Guanajuato.
Though Marcela Vargas' four sons are still alive, she drew them on her cup next to her now-deceased father, a man who loved "cigarros y cerveza" (cigars and beer), she said with a smile.
Vargas, a Pescadero resident originally from Leon, Guanajuato, said that it is important for her to make sure that her sons remember their grandfather, because they never got a chance to meet him.
"He was a hard worker, a good father, and a good husband," she said.
Traditions practiced for the Mexican holiday differ not just by regions, but between districts of the same region itself, those in attendance said.
In the district of Coquila in Oaxaca, workshop participants said, families bring offerings from the gravesite of their loved ones to the godparents of their children, while in San Pablo, Oaxaca, this is not practiced, said Irma Rodriguez.
In the area of Piedra, Oaxaca, participants said, godparents traditionally bring gifts to their godchildren, which can include clothes, sweets, and chocolate.
The series of Día de los Muertos workshops have been sponsored by , the community resource center which provides services and programs for the South Coast communities of La Honda, Loma Mar, Pescadero and San Gregorio.
To Alejandra Resendiz, Puente Youth Program Associate, the workshop is a way to show the larger public what Mexican traditions are all about, as well as a way to bring back old traditions that might have been lost.
"The American culture doesn't celebrate the dead or honor them the way we do in Mexico," she said. "This holiday shows different sides of a person."
Resendiz came to the United States from Tequisquiapan in Quecetaro state at the age of 5. Since coming to this country, her family has not celebrated the holiday, she said.
Community members who contributed items to the altar will be on hand at the farmer's market to tell the public more about Día de los Muertos and the making of the ofrenda.
The presentation will take place from 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. at this Thursday's , which runs from 4- 7 p.m. The market is located at 350 Stage Road in Pescadero.