Today, in Nicaragua, we observed Día de los Muertos. Unlike Mexico’s celebration of the holiday, there were no marigolds, paper mache skeletons, chocolate skulls or parades of costumes. But the basics were there. A day to honor the family members of those who have passed.
Instead of Spanish class today, Katia suggested a cultural outing, a visit to Granada’s cemetery. We took the buss to the outskirts of Granada where the crowds were gathering.
Upon entering the cemetery we were greeted by a line of vendors selling cold drinks, fried foods and sweets. Interestingly enough, there wasn’t a flower vendor in sight.
It was a typical Granada day, mucho calor, well over 100 degrees. It was early, so the sun was very bright as the reflection upon all of the white concrete had a blinding effect. Miro who was without his sunglasses complained about the glare. (come to think about it, he complained about it being hot, being thirsty, and how he’d rather be anywhere else)
In the front of the cemetery boasted the most spectacular of concrete plots, adorned with saints, angels and a few of a frozen Jesuses displaying a solid commitment to their faith, in death. Most of these were family plots, marking the final resting place of generations, presumably the lineages of the wealthy.
As we walked away from the grand spectacle of the larger plots, Granada’s humanity started to appear. Families gathering around the grave sites of the loved ones, people roaming about to pay respects and many many smiles. In addition to the families, there were countless men and boys with shovels, all wearing smiles, all all offering to tidy up the grave sites for a few cordovas. The boys ranged in age from 7 years old to late teens and the men came in all shapes and sizes. The one commonality was, they all needed to earn some money and Día de los Muertos was the perfect opportunity to be of service.
Near the front of the cemetery were the grave sites and memorial for those fallen from the civil war. Because Granada is a conservative stronghold, those that died were likely associated with FSLN.
Additionally there was a plot for a linage of ex-presidents of Nicaragua, the Chamorro family, apparently waiting for some of the members to die.
In total, we spent about 2 hours exploring. I was grateful our visit to the cemetery was on Día de los Muertos which brought alive a rich cultural heritage at the crossroads of humanity.
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