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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lima's Cemetery City

Last Saturday, on a VERY hot morning, I headed out with Edwin, Santiago, and a fellow Canadian, Vanessa (she is a real journalist!), across the city passed the Shanty towns, to the 2nd largest Cemetery in the world.  
The shanty towns on the way to the cemetery.
When we arrived, I really was unable to grasp the true enormity of the place.  There are over 2 million people buried there.  In my head, to put this in perspective, I thought about the fact that Saskatchewan currently has a population of just over 1 million people.  That's a lot of people.  For as far as the eye could see, over hills and around corners were endless rows of elaborate monuments, family mausoleums, but mostly, simple piles of rocks with a wooden cross marker with a name and date on it.  Some that had not been legible for many years.  
This Saturday morning, the place was eerily quiet.  Just a few people visiting their loved ones and bringing them flowers and gifts.  

We got out to walk up a hill and noticed that near the edge of the cemetery were small shanty homes.  Edwin told us that these people moved in to the cemetery illegally just over a year ago.  They literally are living among the graves.  If you look, in the next picture, all of the small houses on the hillside are inhabited and are on cemetery property.  

We walked up to the top of a hill with a cross, not only depicting Jesus, but that also has ancient Peruvian religious meaning.  There is a moon and a sun and other features that one would not see on a regular cross.  

Beside the cross, was a small building.  An altar where people come to give offerings to god.  While this is set up to be a catholic place of worship, it actually appears to be a Huaca, a building that was again, built as an ancient Peruvian place of worship.  


"There is a place in our hearts, that cannot be occupied again, rest in Peace, until we meet again"
Not gonna lie, this made me tear up a bit.

Seeing the place, filled with color and joy, it made me wonder why at home, most of our tombstones are black and so subdued.  It also made me think that when I die, I want a pink headstone, embellished with thousands of Swaroski crystals.  Everybody take note.  

We placed some flowers and headed back to the car.  On the way we saw some family that had brought fruit and cookies to give to their loved one.  Most of the time, the offerings are sweet treats, everybody loves that.   We had quite an eye opening morning, again, this seems to be nothing new in Lima, but once again it was amazing, and something that I will never see again.
On our way back into the city, we saw this guy.  He is one of the many people that go out in in traffic when it is stopped to entertain and hopefully get a few soles.  He was so adorable and talented, and when he came up to the car he gave us a big smile and thanks.  I almost took him home with me.  

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