Remember That Time…We Visited The Dead?
Now that we’ve returned home and have settled back into our routine lives again we find it funny how our travel stories keep coming up. Invariably one of us will look at the other and say ‘Remember That Time…’ I thought it would make a good series; a way to tell these small stories that take us back in the blink of an eye.
I’m not one to believe in ghost stories, or think that my ancestors are looking down on me. I have a pretty pragmatic view of death and will be utterly surprised if I ‘wake up’ on the other side. I am fascinated, though, by cemeteries and the lengths to which people will go to honor and remember their loved ones.
La Cementerio de la Recoleta in Buenos Aires is a grand display of love, and worship, and wealth.
Ensconced within the tony Recoleta neighborhood, hidden behind high walls, it is a city within the city. City blocks, stone streets, narrow alleys and plazas mark the landscape and live up to the name City of the Dead.
In this city the streets are not lined with houses, and driveways, and green lawns; but with mausoleums, and tombstones, and statues honoring those that rest here.
It is truly a sight to behold. We wandered for hours, checking out all the nooks and crannies, reading the inscriptions and poking our heads into open mausoleums to see stacks of coffins inside! It was, at times, a little creepy but more-so it was fascinating to think of the time, and energy, and money that went into these final resting places.
There is a reminder of this grand cemetery here at home. From the window near the front door of our apartment I can look out to the biggest cemetery here in Victoria, the Ross Bay Cemetery. It is a beautiful, parkland-like setting on the edge of the ocean; in fact, local lore says that high tides and storms have been responsible for sucking caskets out to sea…that was until they shored it all up a few years ago and wrecked the ghost story-telling potential.
Housing many local founding fathers (such as Sir James Douglas and John Dunsmuir), Canadian icons (Emily Carr and Billy Barker) and historical figures (Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie and Nellie Chapman), it is the perfect place to take a walk..and we do often as we cut through on our way to the grocery store.
It is old; just as old as La Cementerio de la Recoleta; opened in 1873, and is showing it’s age with many of the tombs covered in moss, or caved in but it is no match for the grandest cemetery in Argentina. Don’t tell those resting there though…they have an ocean view and are proud of it!