Friday, March 16, 2007

Let's Visit the Cemetery!

Another place we visited here on the island while B's sister was here was the local cemetery. It is at the end of downtown, close to the beach. It is now overshadowed by these ugly condominiums being built right on the beach. As you can see, it has gotten quite crowded.

As in most (all?) of Mexico, people are buried above ground. I saw cemeteries like this in Costa Rica also. Embalming is not done here. People are buried the day after they die whenever possible. I think the cement tombs keeps the smell of rotting flesh contained. This cemetery is so full that they have now constructed a new one just a bit south of us. On prime, ocean front property. Also in a spot that gets scrubbed clean by the giant waves that come in with hurricanes. Should be interesting.

These giant angels are on several graves. I doubt that they were cheap.

Again, you can see the amount of overcrowding. We have been told that in some instances relatives are just stacked on top of each other. An attempt to save space. I don't believe it though. All the graves I have seen only have one name on them.

Most of them are decorated and the families maintain them year round. Not just on Day of the Dead. Here we have two ceramic swans filled with plastic flowers.

In an earlier post, we visited the home of Mundaca the pirate. This is his grave. Rumor has it that his bones are no longer here. Maybe someplace near Merida. Nobody really knows for sure. No explanation as to why he would have been moved either. Note the skull and crossbones.
It also has this inscription on it which is attributed to him:
As you are, I once was. As I am, you shall be.
Kind of sums it all up, doesn't it.

Some people actually build little houses to protect their loved ones.

I feel sorry for this family. When the time comes, they are going to have to do a lot of cleaning to make room for their dearly departed.

This area stands out from the rest. Whereas most everything is done in concrete, this whole area is done in marble. Not surprising then that this is one of the richest families on the island.

The saddest thought are the children. There seems to be a relatively high number of them. It breaks your heart, imagining the grief the families must have felt. This little girl was only 4 days old.
Looks like this family tried twice without success. The son on the left lived 4 days and the one on the right a little less than a month. Notice they were given almost exactly the same name. I assume that this family's misfortune ended here because there are no more graves. I hope so anyway.

Some of the graves have little vaults with a picture of the departed.
Some have items placed in them that must have meant something to the lost one. Sometimes quite an assortment. I particularly like in this one that the Coke had been half consumed before placing it in.

Some can be quite elaborate. This looks like a top from a wedding cake.

I knew this guy. Or at least saw him around a lot when we first started coming here. He was a flamboyantly gay hairdresser. His lover on the island was stationed here in the Navy. Nobody batted an eye and everybody seemed to be his friend.

I hope this was is empty and these boards are just a temporary cover.

Finally, look away if you are sensitive.
Some of the older graves are actually in the walls surrounding the cemetery. Occassionally one of these will break open. Then we are treated to this.
Yes, those are actually human bones. At least somebody put the majority of them into a plastic bag. Eventually they will either be removed or this crypt resealed.
If you ever get a chance to walk around in a Mexican cemetery, by all means do it. It is a fascinating part of this culture.

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