Monday, 31 August 2009

An unusual tourist hotspot, 28 July 2009

A cemetery. Now who in there right mind would think that a cemetery would be a tourist attraction. Ok, maybe some goth-types who like to sacrifice animals in graveyards beneath full moons, but in 'normal' circumstances...?

Recolletta Cemetery is on all the tourist maps of Buenos Aires and it is indeed IN.CREDIBLE!

Rhiannon and I were in touching distance of the cemetery when we were at the Recoletta Market on Saturday, but we decided not to go and explore it that day as we wanted to take advantage of the FREE English speaking tour of the cemetry that took place on Tuesdays. So, Tuesday came and Rhiannon, Scott and I set off early to reach the cemetery in time for the English speaking tour that began once a week at 11am. However, we didn't set off early enough and missed the tour! Dammit!

Rhiannon had already been to the cemetry on a previous trip to BA and so Rhiannon became our guide and with the help of a map that we bought we made our way around the cemettery.

As I stepped inside the walled cemetry I fell sombre with respect, but then this feeling of sombreness was quickly overwhelmed with a feeling of WOW! Inside the cemetry it was not as i expected at all. It was astounding. I was totally blown away by the extravagance of the tombs, they were just beautiful. Huge stone, granite and marble scarcophogi were everywhere. They had the most intricate statues and carvings and some had stunning stained glass inside them.

It almost felt wrong to take photos, but it was all so strangely picturesgue and photogenic that you couldn't resist.

The cemetery is home to the bodies of Buenos Aires' elite: the aristocracy, the famous, the war heroes. And the tombs are laid out in a grid form that makes you feel as though you are wandering through streets. At the bac of the cemetery are some incredible statues.

In fact, the cemetery as a whole, feels like a microcosm of the ritzy side of Buenos Aires from the city's prime (something that is not so much visible anymore as you walk the city's streets, post all the conflicts that have arisen in the city's recent history). The styles and architecture on display are fantastic and it is absolutely resplendent.

A great sense of mystery overwhelms you as you wander around the cemetery. Who were all these people? What were their stories?

One grave really took my fancy, the tomb of Rufina. Rufina Cambaceres is known as the girl who died twice. (Please note that this is a story that has been a victim of Chinese whispers and so the story has been manipulated and changed. This is the version as I know it.) Rufina died very young at the age of 19 and after her funeral was laid to rest inside her family tomb. A few days after her coffin was placed insied the crypt a cemetery caretaker was tending to something inside the crypt when he realised that something was not quite right with the coffin. With the family's consent the coffin was opened and Rufina was in there dead, but not as she had been laid in the coffin. There were scratches on the inside of the coffin and Rufina'a hair was all dishevelled. It was realised that Rufina was buried alive. It is said that she woke up inside her coffin from a deep narcoleptic sleep and tried to scratch her way out of the coffin to escape. She suffocated before she managed to escape. Tragic. There is another story suggesting that Rufina was actually drugged by her mother. This story suggests that Rufinaƛ mother was having an affair with her daughter's fiance, and that her mother drugged Rufina so that she could spend time with the fiance. However, the mother gave Rufina too much drug and she fell into a coma. Ooo conspiracy! Rufina is officially the only person who has died inside the cemetery. A statue was erected outside the tomb to remember her.

Another tomb of note inside the cemetry is that of Eva Duarte, aka Evita. We found the tomb without any touble as there was a HUGE pile of flowers in front of the tomb (the anniversary of her death had been two days earlier). The tomb itself wasn't so impressive by comparison with some of the otehrs, but we took the obligatory photo and paid our respect.

The cemetery was simply amazing. Creepy, but amazing. There were so many cats slinking round the cemetry which maddde it eerie. People are still buried inside the cemetery today.

Sorry, I've had to write this post twice as the computer crashed just as i finished writing about it first time, and because of this I haven't really done the place justice second time round. I will try and write some more another time so I can redeem the post!.

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