Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Nicaragua's Day of the Dead and a big fat scorpion

We arrived back from the Corn Islands to two things: A huge venomous bark scorpion in our house and the Day of the Dead. Though not as elaborate, nor as lighthearted, as Mexico's day of the dead, this is still a major holiday in Nicaragua. Nearly everybody in Central America receives some part of this day off, to pay respect to ancestors and lost loved ones. I had the pleasure of experiencing this celebration in Central America's oldest cemetery. The crowds were amazing but the fragrance of the flowers is what one first notices approaching the great cemetery walls. As soon as I entered the perimeter of the Victorianesque cemetery, I realized the magnitude of the grieving, prayers and solemnity of the occasion. People really went out of their way to clean, organize and beautify their family's mausoleums, crypts and tombs. Outside of the cemetery was a carnival-like atmosphere with food and drink but inside was a serious affair and the whole thing seemed a bit contrived to me. Don't get me wrong, I did see people squeezing their bodies through the tiny mausoleum doors for a reason, but that reason ought not be a season. Paying respect for loved ones is legit but en-mass is a bit much. Does the size of your bouquet really demonstrate your love? Is a huge crypt really necessary for an occasional visit by a relative? Times like this, I thank my mom for saying, while she was still living, that she did not want a grave for people to feel like that had to go to, tend to, and be burdened with. She chose to be cremated and have her ashes released into the ocean, which we did. Now, no matter where her children go, there she is, reflecting the shimmering sunlight off the water. She is free, we are free, and the love endures. Cremation and an ocean burial proved to be so natural and beautiful that my dad opted for that as well.  

A scorpion half the size of your foot, now that's a scorpion!

The fragrances were amazing.

Remembering loved ones.

Condos of the afterlife.

I had to break off the main lanes due to traffic.

Beautiful place and very historic

Love and admiration were apparent.

People were very welcoming in the cemetery.

People were still arriving so this will most certainly be a wall of flowers before nightfall.

Large mausoleums for ex-presidents, businessman or the well-connected.

Beautiful arrangement adorned the cemetery 

Get the flowers while they available.

Food, drink and just about anything else one needs was available outside the cemetery. 

Wonderful arrangement for 30 US cents a pop.

The traffic was a nightmare in front of the cemetery.

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