The Brief and Wondrous Life of Pepe The Piñata – Michelle Piñon

Like any good piñata, Pepe was made in México. Constructed from a hodgepodge compilation of used car advertisements and weight-loss flyers, Pepe was a classic piñata. And he had no idea what adventures awaited him at Yosemite National Park.


Pepe campPepe stands guard while the LO team explores the Yosemite Valley.

Eduardo and I met Pepe at a crossroads in his life. We promised him adventure. Even while nestled amongst his brothers in an overflowing cardboard bin at a Grocery Outlet, Pepe stood out. As much as it is physically possible for piñata to look adventurous, Pepe looked adventurous. So, we bought him and loaded him up in a car bound for Yosemite.

pepe purchaseAlthough still in disbelief that we were actually going to buy a piñata for our camping trip, Eduardo welcomes Pepe to our Latino Outdoors family.

Pepe was always destined for the mountains. He ventured high into the Stanislaus National Forest before descending into Yosemite Valley. He watched the heavy rain outside Sacramento become light snow in Groveland. He even offered to help us wrap snow chains around Eduardo’s tires after the car almost veered off an icy forest road.

snowy yosemitealthough truth be told, piñatas know very little about snow chains.


Wherever Pepe went in the Valley he was met with confusion (why is that piñata here? is it hiking? this is confusing.). But Pepe didn’t mind. He was a trend-setter – a real maverick. Plus, once people got over their initial confusion, (“yes..that is a colorful piñata stashed in between our down sleeping bags and Jetboils.”) they would ask if we had plans to break him soon. They wanted in on our piñata festivities. And so, Pepe became a celebrity of sorts.


Yet ultimately, Pepe fell victim to the elements. While our LO crew scampered about granite mountains and slid around on slick ice patches, Pepe protected our tents from mischievous raccoons.  (Apparently, in Yosemite, raccoons have learned how to unzip tent flaps.) As the afternoon set in, rain clouds rolled onto the scene and poor Pepe got caught in the storm. By the time we returned to the campground, Pepe was completely soaked.

That night we debated what to do with Pepe. Should we take him back to his former home in Sacramento? Attempt to blow-dry him? Or… should we use him to supplement our rapidly depleting firewood supply? Eventually we agreed to cremate the poor guy. (i.e. – Alfonso bugged me about it a couple times and I eventually gave in). Find below pictures of that painful, yet beautiful, funeral.

Pepe Fire
Biggest lesson learned – Piñatas burn really well. Like surprisingly well.

Pepe’s life was short-lived, true, but it was an exciting one. May we all learn from his sense of adventure, colorful disposition and unwavering belief that a belly full of candy is the key to life well lived. Hasta la siguiente Pepe!

(Also- here are more pictures from the trip!)


food and fun




Michelle Piñon is Latino Outdoors’ Regional Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest. Outside of Latino Outdoors, Michelle is also the Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator for Puget Soundkeeper and a Natural Leader. Michelle spends the vast majority of her time either outside or plotting how to be outside. She also loves Justin Bieber in a non-ironic way.

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