Wednesday, November 4, 2009

All Soul's Day

We visited the city cemetery on All Soul's Day on Nov 2.

This day is also called 'the day of the dead' in other Latin American countries. Some countries celebrate the day on Nov 1, but here, Nov 1 is All Saint's Day, a religious holiday for a special church mass. We heard church bells all day.

All Soul's Day is a time of honoring those friends and family who have died. Family members clean the gravesite, remember the departed and add new flowers. We also noticed some families had brought a priest for family mass.

A special drink and bread celebrate the season. Several vendors were selling these outside the cemetery, along with flowers and wreaths.

This red drink, is called "Colata Molada". It is made from many Andean fruits. It's thick, served warm and very sweet.

These bread babies (also very sweet) are called "GuaGua de pan". 'GuaGua' is the quichua word for 'babies'... pronouced 'waaa waaa'.

An Ecuadorian friend came with us to add flowers to his family's plot. He also gave us an insight into the various customs as we toured the grounds.

A blast from the past. Our friend is wearing the same exact shirt I used to wear for the 4th of July!

We enjoyed meeting one of his friends, whose family runs a nearly marble company. She showed us examples of Ecuadorian and Italian marble.

We learned that in Cuenca, there are 2 burials:
The first is temporary, for only 4 years. The second (of bones only) is more permanent. Bones go into a smaller space. Embalming and cremation are not common.

There is a crematorium, but it's used for those families who cannot afford a grave site.

The cemetery is huge! Lovely trees and buildings. The oldest grave we saw was from the early 1900's.

Some of the buildings are several stories high, all with 'plots' with glass fronts for displays. You can see families have added candles, flowers and religious items. We also saw some had photoes and toys.

There are several large monuments dedicated to families. We recognized some of the names of prominent families.

"Stairway to Heaven".

One memorial remembers and honors many Ecuadorians who died at sea in 2005. They were headed for the USA. Gifts of flowers and petals on the ground surrounding the site.

Our friends tell us that the cemetery is 'magical' at night on All Soul's Day, with thousands of lighted candles. We'll have to visit at night next year.

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