Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Halloween in a 250+ year old Mexican cemetery

Walkway at Panteon Belen
Welcome to Panteon Belen, Guadalajara’s ancient, haunted cemetery. Actually, aren’t all cemeteries haunted? I’d think so. On Halloween we walked up to this old cemetery in the morning, and spent a few hours among the graves, trees, crypts and place. It was quite a hub outside for tickets to the sold-out guided tours and night time shows, but once inside the tall walls (the walls themselves actually hold 900 bodies), it was quiet and serene, and really lovely.
Wall of crypts at Panteon Belen

This place is packed with history and stories…I particularly like the story with this grave….
Trees and grave at Panteon Belen
The tree you see here actually grows from the stake that was driven through the vampire’s heart to kill him, and buried here. Look carefully and you can see the roots growing in and out and around and over the grave, slinking it’s way through everything. They say that if you cut the tree’s branches it drips blood instead of sap.

Grave at Panteon Belen
Another grave is a child’s, and the story goes that he was scared of the dark. When he was buried, the caretaker would return every morning to discover his grave open to the sky, and every day, he would replace the cover. After awhile, they decided to just leave it open. Even after death the poor little boy was scared of the dark.

Night show at Panteon Belen
Since we were there during Day of the Dead, we returned in the evening to attend a special show. The walkways were lit with candles, the sun was setting, and the mood was particularly spooky. The performance was a one-woman show, featuring her as Death. It’s not as morbid as it sounds. Actually, none of this is as morbid as it sounds because in Mexico, death is not taboo or feared or talked about in whispers. It’s celebrated, honored, and respected. AdRi had to translate most of it to me afterwards, but it was a cool performance and the small 40-50 person audience wildly loved it.

Quincinera photo at Panteon Belen
This is how different our cultures are when it comes to death…there were several girls having their professional portraits taken for their Quinceanera. It produced one of my favorite photos from the trip…
Quincinera photo at Panteon Belen2
To see more photos from this beautiful place, visit my set of photos .

Sidenote: I realized during this trip that for some reason, I seem to travel a lot during this time of year. In the past 5 years, I've now spent Halloween in a mexican cemetery, Chicago's Logan Square huge Halloween performance art gathering, the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, and a candle-lit tour of a historic and haunted Western Australia prison built by inmates. I think this proves I'm a freak.


Rozanne said...

Fabulous photos. I particularly love the mosaic-y way the wall crypts look. Beautiful colors.

It sounds like absolutely the best place to have been for Halloween. What is the deal with that corpse bride? Freakarama!!!!!

Kathryn said...

Very nice, beautiful photos.

Anonymous said...

You may be a freak, but I luv ya.

Yeah! You're back!!

Gravely Gay said...

Bienvenidos! I'm glad you had fun, next time take me with you.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! Thanks for sharing those great photos!


Unknown said...

Recently visited the cemetery on Isla Mujeres. The cemetery was absolutely beautiful and colorful. I noticed the dates on the markers are recent but the crypts are old. Do you know if customary to bury all family members in the same crypt?