Any day in Merida is a good day to go visit the old cemetery where Merida´s rich old families rub shoulder blades with their more humble neighbors. The first grave dates from 1821 but if you marry into one of the old haciendero families you can still get yourself a prime spot in their private mausoleum.
The first Sunday after All Saints and All Souls and I found myself in the cemetery for the first time in years. They sun was bright the sky was beautiful and two of my dogs were pulling me along from grave to grave. I parked on the main street where Merida´s wealthy hacienda owners had their mausoleums built in the 19th and early 20th century. I seemed to remember there was a beautiful marble sarcophagus behind the yellow chapel on my right. There it was a lovely as I remembered and I climbed across a grave to get a peak under the shroud.
This lovely monument named La Dame Triste is a copy the of genoese sculptor Giovanni Villa. It is behind the mausoleum of the family Medina Rodriguez.
The first time I took my dogs to a cemetery near Mucuyche my dogs chased an iguana into a chapel filled with bones in plastic supermarket bags hung on the wall with skulls lined up on the altar. I was terrified they would grab a femur and run for the open car door. The first time I visited the cemetery in Merida I also saw a few bones and skulls beneath broken stones but that no longer seems to be the case. Today I saw a ossuary that had been opened from behind full of rusty tin boxes full of bones.
Sixteen years ago when I came to live in Merida is seems the cemetery was in a better stare of repair than the city but now the opposite seem true. The older generation seem to have moved on or perhaps into their graves and no one is left to tend to the old monuments. Even though the day of the dead was this week there were very few flowers or newly painted or weeded plots in this old part of the graveyard.
The haciendero families of Merida seemed to favor the neo-gothic style for their final resting places.
There seem to be as many Christs as there are Virgins but by far the most popular monuments seem to be angels.
I sometimes forget to recommend visiting the cemetery. In my family it´s what all my aunts do on the weekend no matter where they are the rummage through an old graveyard. I remember countless pic nics and family reunions where the main event was a trip to pull weeds on the graves of our ancestors.
So all of those photos and more with two dogs pulling me along in the burning sun with an empty stomach. I´ll remember a picnic lunch next time I visit and to read up on the people buried in this hallowed ground.