Monday, January 23, 2012

The Order of the Recoletos built a convent and church here on the edge of Buenos Aires in 1732.  Apparently they didn't make much headway with the heathens, and wandered off less than a hundred years later.  After they left, the garden next to the convent was converted into the first public cemetery in BA and inaugurated by the Governor of the area, Martin Rodriguez.  Unfortunately for the Governor, he soon became one of the first of many state and national officials to be buried there.  Since then, according to Wikipedia, 4691 stone and marble tombs have been built on its 14 acres, 94 of which have been declared Argentine National Monuments.  

Recoleta Cemetery

Quietly strolling through the forest of monuments, domes, and statuary fostered a sense of wonder within me.  Many of the tombs and mausoleums contained the bones of military heros, governors, the wealthy barons of Argentina, and Argentine Presidents and their families.  I couldn't help but wonder though, who were these other people?  What were their lives like?

Family Crypt

This is typical of many of the tombs. Glass doors and fronts.  

Ladders to descend into family histories.  
Layers of family caskets for all to pay respects to.  
Leftovers from lives and family relics adorn the shelves.  
Lives.  Gone, but not forgotten.
Longing from loved ones who remain.

To me, one of the most personally touching of all the monuments 
was that of Liliana Crociati de Szascak.  The 26 year old bride was
honeymooning in Innsbruck, Austria when she was killed by an 
avalanche.  Heartbroken, her mother designed her tomb...

 Her father wrote the poem beneath the life-size bronze statue of Liliana in her wedding dress:

To my Daughter

Only I ask myself why
You left and left my heart destroyed
That wanted only you, why?
Why? Only destiny knows the reason, and I ask myself why?

Because we can't be without you, why?
You were so beautiful that invidious nature destroyed you. Why?
I only ask myself why, if God exists, does he take away that which is His name.
Because He destroys us and leaves us to an eternity of sadness!

Why? I believe in fate and not in you. Why?
Because I only know that I always dream with you, why is that?
For all the love my heart feels for you.
Why?  Why?

Your Papa

After her dog, Sabu, died, the original sculptor added a bronze of the dog, with Liliani's hand resting on its head.  

As I thought of my daughter, Val, my throat tightened, and a tear fell.

But I had come to see the tomb of the woman who pissed of Argentina's elite by being buried in "their" public cemetery... While little Eva was reviled by the elite of society, she was the heroine of the working masses.  Born, the illegitimate child of a rancher, then  abandoned with her mom and siblings, she rose from the dregs of humanity to become the first pro-labor First Lady of Argentina.  With 4000 tombs, how would I ever find it? 

I followed the crowd...

to find...

Turns out, I felt much much more looking at Liliana's final resting place.

Next... Heading for Fin del Mundo!

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