Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cemeteries in Valparaiso

I thing that cemeteries one of the most interesting places we can visit anywhere. I have wandered through many of them all over the world including Canadian Military Cemeteries throughout France and Belgium and have never been disappointed. One of historical importance is a place we used to spend many hours as a teenager coming of age, Drummond Hill Cemetery.  Home of Laura Secord and various soldiers of the War of 1812 some of thier births are mid 1700s, right there in our own back yard. Take some time, wander around and get a feel for the place. Open your mind and you will not be disappointed.

Death and Cemeteries are celebrated in Latin America with unabased fevor. Dia de Muerte or the Day of the Dead is a National Holiday, I think its November 2nd. Familys visit thier loved ones, have great celebrations and its very festive. There are parades, firewords and families just being together in the town sqaures.  How amazing is that. I think our uptight western society puts death in a very deep and secret place. It is only to be talked about quietly and with the perception that the discussion needs to be sad. Here they dont dwell on the death, they celebrate the life that was lived. Awesome. 
 There are two large cemeteries in Valparaiso.  From Lonely Planet - "The city’s most illustrious, influential and infamous residents love the afterlife style of Valpo’s Cementerio 1, where tombs are actually ornate mini palaces. Adjoining it is the back-up option, Cementerio 2, and the Cementerio de Disidentes, or ‘dissident cemetery’ – despite the name, it’s the final resting place of Protestants rather than rabble-rousers."

LP nailed it when they called the tombs Ornate Mini Palaces. This was as an impressive collection of tombs, moseleums and burial chambers as anywhere I have ever seen. There was a list of the famous poets, writers, musicians  and politicans but I know very little of Chilean history. I took down some names, along with historical names as the Naval Museum to get me started though.
As I wandered around checking out family historys, dates, and just getting a feel for both Cem 1 and 2 it suddenly came to me that everything was very calm and serene. I remember having this feeling in Tyne Cott and other Cemeteries in Europe.

I visted  Iceland with my sister Kelly a few years ago. We had a great time driving the ring road, living off peanut butter and banana and hitting up the hostels and homestays. I even made her climb an active volcano and now she is hooked. One day while in Reykijavik I spotted the local cemetery to which I just made a beeline. My sister, in between feeding and talking to the local ducks just said NO Way, thats sick. Well it wasn't 20 minutes later she was looking for great photo ops, walking around and just getting the feel for the history. I think her comment was "This is really interesting but I am going to need a drink afterwards"

If you want to search for the gravesite of the historically famous check out Find A Grave  It also has great information Wiki style on each person, well each person I checked for.
Cemeteries are History just waiting to be discovered.

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