Tuesday, January 19, 2010
GRAVE ROBBING AT RECOLETA CEMETERY -- PLUS EVITA'S TOMB
Apart from the fantastic ice cream chains (Freddo's, Volares, etcetera), the rubber trees, La Boca, and the amazing art galleries -- the second floor of the National Museum of Art featuring Argentinian art is awe-inspiring -- Recoleta Cemetery, aka the Buenos Aires Boneyard is one of the most interesting places in the city. It's minutes away from our hotel. Above is the church by the entrance.
And here is a street scene from the City of the Dead. As you can see, everyone here is in a family mausoleum.
The cemetery is filled with rich people and dignitaries: a plot here is literally the most expensive real estate in the world. But the main reason tourists flock here is to see the mausoleum of Evita. (Peron is buried in a military cemetery, not here.) The flowers you see below are real. They change every day. She is truly beloved by the poor to this day, despite her taste in shoes and accessories.
Aside from the dead, the cemetery is home to cats. Here is the mayor, and an assistant on siesta:
But there's a darker side to the cemetery. Many of the mausoleums are collapsed or broken into -- great for grave robbers, necrophiles and the homeless who live in the tombs after dark. The thing is, it's up to families to pay for upkeep and pay a tax of 30 pesos for each dead person in the family tomb going back several hundred years -- so some people just say forget it. After 40 years the city takes back the plot and the bodies are dumped somewhere else.
Meanwhile you can see coffins -- and touch them where the doors are broken in or the glass smashed -- and also see violated mausoleums with stairs leading down to where the coffins from a century ago are stored. (Mausoleums can hold nine coffins, plus a great many more reliquaries. I gather when the tombs are full, it's the in-laws who are first to get the old heave-ho.
Anyway, it's all quite spooky and fun -- if you´re not the corpse.
We'll be coming back to Buenos Aires. But when I post next, I'll be taking you to the fabulous IGUAZU FALLS!!! Get your wetsuits on!