The kinds of conversations one has in a cemetery are unlike most others. At least that’s what I found out this past weekend as we explored Recoleta Cemetery and searched endlessly to find the tomb of the famous Eva Perón. Given how famous and popular Evita is, I think we all sort of expected some big gigantic sign to point us in the right direction… that and hoards of tourists like us. But, alas, we were wrong. It was just us and two very lost Australian dentists determined to find this tomb– can you imagine?
And of course as these things often go, our hunt proved more fruitful than our
findings for Eva Peron’s tomb is, well, a tad underwhelming. That is, in the context of these incredibly ornate monuments and statues and big cathedral like domes, her marble tomb is rather unassuming. Indeed, this powerful woman does not even occupy her own shrine, but shares it with her family instead. But then again, perhaps this speaks more to the kind of person the people’s Evita really was.
To say all this however is not to discount the cemetery we visited at all. It really is quite the tourist destination. It’s our Arlington Cemetery but instead of white markers in straight rows, it hosts exquisite domes, grand marble and granite pillars, and avenues lined with trees and street lamps. This cemetery is unlike any cemetery I’ve ever visited– which admittedly isn’t saying much seeing as I thankfully haven’t visited many cemeteries. Amongst all the grays of the pillars and tombs, mingle flowers that are freshly placed each week. Outside the cemetery gates there is a fair, musicians, color. And perhaps it is for this reason that this cemetery is so different– it is not off to the side and secluded as many often are. It is placed instead right in the heart of a plaza, a little corner bustling with life. And so I would imagine it is not rare that while walking up and down the avenues of this cemetery, people often engage in earnest conversations about the prospects of their own death and the other what-if’s that we can go a whole lifetime without talking about, even with those we love and treasure most.