Dead Famous (or Famously Dead?) in La Recoleta

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“Mark, quiet! Shshsh..!”

I’m not particularly superstitious or a stickler for etiquette, but I didn’t want Mark to shout in the cemetery. Sure, La Recoleta is very touristic and people sip Starbucks coffee wandering between the graves, yet I feel I have to show some respect. That involves shushing my kid who is asking “church? Church?” every two meters—for Mark, anything that looks old is a “church”.

“It’s not a church, Mark. It’s a…”

I pause for a second. The easy way out would be to say “it’s a cemetery”. When Mark doesn’t know the meaning of a word, he usually nods and stops asking. But I felt like I owe him a basic explanation.

“It’s a place where people do dodo, we have to be quiet to not disturb them.”

Dodo is short for “dormir”, our code work for sleep. A good enough explanation.

La Recoleta is where the rich and famous are buried in Buenos Aires, including Eva Perón—her grave is easy to find, this where the alley is blocked by tourists waiting to snap a shot. The cemetery is very pretty, even though it feels weird to call such a place “pretty”. But it is, especially under a deep blue sky.

As we wandered around, I tried to read the names of the people buried there—seems like he least I can do, considering I’m stepping over hundreds of bodies. Some graves are very new, other are very old. Some, regardless of the date of death, are well cared for, with recent memorabilia—family pictures, flags, copy of degrees or honorific titles even—while other are covered with spider webs and broken glass. Many names sound Italian, a few German. Half of the “famous dead people” are high-ranking military officials.

This makes me think… I wonder what happens to “unsavoury” people, as times are changing. Former dictators and their entourage, for instance, or military officials who could be now held for responsible for dirty wars and acts of violence and torture. Do we leave them buried with honours? Should the dead be allowed to rest in peace, no matter what they did?

This is a bit too deep for such a lovely day, and Mark is asking for another picture. Wait… did he just call the coffin he is sitting in front of a “boat”?

Oh boy…!

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta (Eva Peron's grave)

La Recoleta (Eva Peron’s grave)

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

La Recoleta

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

9 Comments

  1. I guess it’s a bit complicated for Argentina as the country has been in the past a refuge for war criminals and I do understand that even that kind of people have families and children that might want to mourn them. However, personally I would like to think that they should be banished even in death.

  2. You know? I do not think that everything that is old for Mark is a church, but maybe he associates ogival archs, cricifixes and angels to churches 🙂 They are elements you do not commonly see elsewhere 😀

    As for “unsavoury” peo­ple, as you call them, personally I would avoid any honour, but would grant a simple cerimony ad anonimous burial.
    One thing I will never understand is why a suicidal is denied a Catholic funeral and a criminal is not… 🙁 Dead are dead, I would grant a funeral to anyone, when requested, and leave final judgement to our Father.

    Anyway, your photos are beautiful! 🙂 And yes, there are a lot of Italians in Argentina! Also Palermo is the name of a beautiful italian city 🙂

    • Martin Penwald on

      > One thing I will never under­stand is why a sui­ci­dal is denied a Catholic funeral and a crim­i­nal is not…

      Because life is a gift of cthuluh, and only chtuluh can take it back. That’s why a suicide is an abomination. But what about criminal who have killed people ? Easy, it was cthuluh’s will.
      The christian cthuluh is an evil bastard which doesn’t deserve to be worshipped, even if it existed.

      • Martin, according to my own personal experience of Christian God, the Roman Church, people and priests, I’m much more inclined to believe in human fallibility, which we can hope can be amended in time. I’m afraid (and sorry that) your experiences have been very different from mine.
        To me Christian God is Love, Christian people (even priests) are… people, that’s all.
        I hope you’ll change your mind, eventually, not to align with me, since I always appreciate different views, debating is a way of getting to know oneself and other people better, but because it would mean you’ve had the chance to make better experiences with Christian faith and people, which would be a good thing in itself, anyway 🙂 Have a happy new year!

    • Anonymous burial… I like the idea.

      I agree with you, associating a cemetery with churches is fairly logical. But he also thinks banks are churches 😆

  3. Such a nice surprise to come back to your website after some time away, and find you are visiting my native country. Have a Quilmes beer for me, that’s where I was born! 🙂

  4. I adored my visit to la Recoleta… as you say, it’s a bit odd because it’s a cemetery and one shouldn’t really “enjoy” herself, but I did. It was terribly picturesque – every corner and angle was begging to be photographed, and I loved how this place is so serene and quiet, tucked away from the cacophony of a huge and bustling city.

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