mausoleums, miaos and meyer eat your heart out…!

Before I have haunted ghostly nightmares tonight, I thought I’d write about the Recoleta cemetery that we visited this morning. This is actually the third time we’ve tried to visit Evita, the first was in 2003 when the cemetery was completely closed for renovation, the second about a week ago, with no umbrella, in the freezing rain, with the graves all to ourselves, an amazingly surreal experience, however yet again we didn’t actually find Evita…! Today we found Eva’s Duarte family grave, and heard some tragic tales.

The history of the place is fascinating from a social and architectural point of view, it started off around 1830 as a public graveyard, with fairly straightforward flat marble graves, and only really began to change into one of the most expensive and now private, plots in the world, with huge decorative mausoleums, end of the 19th century, you can still be immortalised today if you have around $80k, but you can only renovate an existing mausoleum…the guide was rather vague about where the previous residents are shifted to…today there are over 300,000 coffins and almost 5,000 mausoleums, and all are quite fascinating in their own way…

Most of them are packed in quite close and looking down each of the tiny streets takes you through almost 200 years of architectural mourning…

It is also more than a little chilling when you hear some of the stories, in particular of those that died young.

One terrible story was of a girl mistakenly buried alive on her 19th birthday in the 19th century, after suffering a form of seizure, they knew this after discovering that she had tried to scratch through the coffin to get out, unimaginable (and a little kill bill)…her tomb shows her opening a door…and I am a little spooked by the light on the photo, didn’t see the rays when I took it in full sun. Legend says that she wanders the cemetery at night in a long white gown, moonlight walks out of bounds unfortunately (or fortunately??)…

Another more recent memorial was just awful, a girl on the first day of her honeymoon was killed by an avalanche in Austria, she is depicted with her pet dog, and for those that speak Italian, the poem written by her mother is heart wrenching…

Loc was more taken by one of the tomb cats…

There were quite a few more stories, Eva Peron of course being the most famous, I didn’t realise, never watched Madonna’s rendition of Evita (and not keen, can understand I think, why there was such an outcry in Argentina) that due to numerous political military coups her embalmed body didn’t actually return to BA until the 70s and the president’s body at the time was actually stolen by rebels to ensure she was returned, sure enough when they released her from a Milan cemetery, 3 hours later the president’s body was given back. I’ve learnt a lot about Eva Peron in the last few weeks, and my formed view, is definitely on the side of her having been quite an astonishing woman, her resting place is with her family, and there are a few inscriptions given her rather frequent changes of address after death, in my mind it’s fitting that she is difficult to find and is buried in a simple (for Recoleta) tomb.

I have always found cemeteries fascinating and this was no exception, perhaps it’s a luxury of thought for the still vaguely youngish, and slightly disconnected, I do wonder how I will feel the older I become…a few final images to finish..my favourite is actually the middle shot taken by Loc (must be picking up tips from me as we go…)

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