Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mexican Cemeteries

"This is way cooler than mission ruins," my son said as he whipped out his cell phone and started snapping pictures of the colorful gravestones and masses of artificial flowers.

Although I've been to hundreds of cemeteries during my travels to Mexico, my son's comment made me see these Baja cemeteries with fresh eyes.  To me, they are prime examples of Latin American folk art.  Families devote time and money in adorning the graves of departed loved ones.  The dead are still very much a part of the living down here.  If a favorite bottle of tequila is placed on Uncle Juan's grave, his soul is likely to hang around for awhile!

It's a religion seeped in superstition, but one I find utterly charming.  In my world our dead are cremated and their ashes are tossed in the ocean or buried in the garden.  We celebrate the lives of our departed family and friends with barbecues at the beach and then we move on with our own.  That is that.

But not in Mexico.  Oh, no!  The first two days in November are holidays down here.  Los Dias de los Muertos.  Banks and schools are closed.  Entire cemeteries come alive with song and dance.  Delicious treats are sold like sugared skulls and pan de muerto.  Pictures of the deceased are brought out once again.  Offerings are made.  Prayers said.  Tears flow as well as a steady supply of booze.

So which is healthier?  To grieve silently or to grieve with a boisterous, intoxicated crowd?  Hmmm.  Who knows?  But I have to admit, I think I agree with my son.    Mexican cemeteries are way cool!

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