Entrance to Recoleta Cemetery: Rest In Peace
Nestled in the affluent neighborhood of Recoleta is the Recoleta Cemetery famous for having important and famous people as residents. Argentina’s past Presidents, Nobel Prize Winners, business moguls, warriors and of course, First Lady, Eva Peron form part of their serene community.
According to our fast-speaking guide, the place has about 4700 graves, and at least 150,000 bodies buried. Each grave belonging to a family unit, depending on how large they are, can cost anything from USD70,000 to a quarter of a million; each one contains anything from 1 to 150 bodies. Tunnels are dug below each grave to create more final resting places for family members – apparently no one really keeps track of the situation below but it seems the maximum capacity has been reached and no more tunneling is allowed for fear of corrupting the city’s systems.
The graves are ornate showpieces, some better kept than others but all have their own tales. Our guide told us many stories as she led us through the winding corridors – some factual, some of legends, some quite creepy. She also entertained questions about incorporeal figures hanging around but was quick to establish that she wasn’t the best person to answer that. I was sure I did not want to hear any of it so was quite relieved she didn’t go into the gory details. Ack, I’d be mortified!
Although I am not one too fond of necropolises, I would visit one if it were part of history and/or is of cultural significance. Like the Pyramids in Egypt and shrines, mausoleums or other similar erections in many parts of the world. It is always interesting to hear about how a person lived and died, how others remember them, and the legacy they have left behind. Hearing these makes me think of the kind of life I want to lead: not getting caught up in the transient things, developing strong relationships, helping people and focusing on the positive.
I’ve always believed in having a life manifesto built around what you want to be remembered for. Greatness, Love, Intelligence, Courage, Hope, Sacrifice? I draw inspiration from the stories I hear about lives led … a bit morbid now that I read the words I am typing out … but there are lessons for me to learn, teachings from which I can use to calibrate my course as I work on mine.