The tiles underfoot rattle like old bones

On a perfectly gloomy day, we decided to visit one of Buenos Aires’ big attractions, the Recoleta Cemetery.

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Surrounded on four sides by city, the most notable are the TGI Fridays and the McDonald’s facing the high wall of the cemetery one side, which are part of the outdoor food court that is the Recoleta Mall.

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View of the Recoleta Cemetery from the Recoleta Mall escalator, above. High end shops for all those things you can’t take with you, and for some reason, Timberland.

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Started in 1822 (next to the church which is even older) this Catholic Cemetery spans four acres and contains 4800 graves.

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This is no ordinary cemetery.

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This is where wealthy and influential Buenos Aires families overstay their lifespans by building tiny apartments to entomb their sarcophagi for generations.

They say it’s costs less to live a long, very extravagant lifestyle than to be buried in the Recoleta Cemetery.

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I enjoyed the perfectly placed cell phone billboard ad. ET phone great great grandmother. She misses you.

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I wondered why the external wall is so high.  It’s partly because the Recoleta Church and entrance to the Recoleta Cemetery are on a hill.  Also, there are some tomb doors with windows, sculpted iron bars, or cross-shaped openings that I could see through. Caskets were placed on shelves, sometimes many shelves high.  On the side of the inside of some of them there were two (or more) flights of stairs down. I tried to imagine the person’s job it was to unlock the metal gate/doors every 50 or 100 years and install a new preserved and blessed body in a beautiful wood box with large, ornate handles. Some were covered in embroidery-edged cloths.

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The rattling tiles could be heard immediately underfoot and afar.  I didn’t hear any chains rattle though, and the cemetery is closed at night.

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They have these monkey puzzle or bunya bunya trees in the cemetery, and there is a huge, old one in downtown Santa Rosa, CA, my home town.

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Roots do a body good.

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Being rich and influential doesn’t guarantee placement. Evita was buried in Italy for many years when she died at age 33 in 1955 (from ovarian cancer caused by the HPV her husband gave her and his previous wife who died of the same thing) before her remaining remains were installed in her husbands family tomb in 1976. It was in a side alley not easy to find other than the crowd taking pictures there.

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Help Ida get her rose, it has fallen from her graces.

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Ida know about you, but she’s in it for the long stretch.

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This family neglected to add bars and locks like the others to protect their eternal resting place from grave robbers, even though Buenos Aires has a long period of history dedicated to smuggling.

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The glass was broken, there were weeds and trash on the floor.  There were caskets inside, but the following picture reveals someone who got what they urned.

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Yes those are human bones. The skull is missing, perhaps it was disturbed in life as well.

I liked the next tomb, rough and rustic unlike any of the others.

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At first I thought it quite sweet and sentimental that someone taxidermied their cat seen just inside the gate/door, now mangy from years of weather, until it hissed at me. Apparently there are several graveyard cats living among the dead.

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Scaffolding on some (units?) and nearly 200 years of weather show families with future move-in plans who pay to upkeep, and that some don’t.  Apparently repairmen in the here and now don’t take credit or loans on equity from the beyond.

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And as in life, there are the cheap seats backing up to McDonald’s.

Moral of the story: don’t die too long ago.

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(El Damo and Zoe are travelling through South America January and February 2016)

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