We went to the Recoleta Cemetery today – a cemetery so popular that the Hard Rock Cafe built a restaurant overlooking it. This confused us when we approached from the wrong side (we thought the cemetery had been turned into a mall), but it’s still intact. Outside the cemetery entrance there’s an enormous tree that has branches that reach out like spider legs covering half the block. It created a nice canopy under which there were several benches and some cafe tables. Az and I took some pictures there, they’re already up on Flickr. I really loved being under the huge old tree, it reminded me of the one in Lisbon with the kids climbing in the branches. This one was fenced off, though, and quite a bit larger. This one had presence – something about it made me happy.
We followed everyone (including a funeral procession, it appeared) into the cemetery to look at all the intricate, posh, gaudy tombs of Buenos Aires’ passed elite. The whole place is a series crypts with the oldest family members buried deep underground and successive generations above, until the most previously deceased rests at the top. We didn’t take a tour this time, but we will in a couple weeks, and I’ll bring our better camera. There were some beautiful gates and statues, some very striking crypts. I particularly liked the ones that had natural light coming in from the top.
As for me, let me rot. If I ever die, god forbid, leave me under an evergreen tree in the forest and let the animals and bugs and plants take me back. The cycle of grow-decompose is beautiful and natural, it’s too bad people choose to be buried in in coffins, to end that cycle, to be alone. Why wouldn’t we want to be inhaled by the earth’s next breath?
If an evergreen grew with the help of nutrients from my ancestors’ bodies, I wouldn’t want that evergreen cut down. I wonder if our relationship with nature is fucked up because our ancestors’ bodies aren’t (literally) in the trees. I wonder if it’s the other way around – we bury our dead in coffins so we don’t have to feel accountable to nature and can therefore do whatever we want to it.
But then I’ve never been impressed by fancy tombs and the like. The Sistine Chapel seemed like one big BJ given by one rich man to another, the Vatican felt the same. The crypts at Recoleta Cemetery today were gorgeous monuments, but I was more moved by the powerful tree outside.
So, I want to rot into an evergreen tree in a forest in the Northwest, maybe in the little park behind Somerset Elementary school. I wonder if you have to get a permit to do that. I could be buried, that would be fine, but no cremation, no coffin.