Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, Cusco, Peru — “People in Cusco like to visit the cemetery,” said Yakelin, our Alexander & Roberts guide, “and cremation is not popular.”
So off we went for a visit to a popular spot in Cusco: Cementerio Museo Patrimonial de la Almudena.
The outside walls of the place are covered with murals depicting scenes from life, pictures of people in costumes at Cusco’s celebrations and godlike creatures emerging from an ear of corn.
Inside, the overall impression is a bit more sober, but a closer look is warranted. The rows and rows of crypts holding the bodies are stacked high. The outside coverings of the small outside doors display the wealth of the family with some in shiny metals and others in less expensive materials. The richest are stuck away in a mausoleum, off by themselves.
We stopped in front of one crypt with no door. It was for an 11-year-old boy who had died recently. It will take at least three to four months before a new door can be put on because the gas from chemicals and decomposing can break the glass.
Families can own crypts, or they can rent them in five-year periods. However, when the rent is unpaid, an “eviction notice” (as Ramsey the doctor who could be a reporter called it) is posted on the door of the enclosure. If not paid, the body is removed and buried in a public common grave.
Yakelin said people usually visit at least once a week to replace flowers inside the crypt doors. That’s where things liven up a bit with pictures from the deceased’s life, things that remind the family of them and other things that could be special to them.
Battery-operated figurines have become popular in many of the crypts with families believing animated figures put some life in a place of the dead.
See that frog in the video below? Right on top of my urn, please.
But first, we are off to Quito, Ecuador.