Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Very, very grave

Today is All Saints' day in Spain. Well I suppose it's All Saint's all over the Catholic World, maybe farther afield, anywhere in the Christian World. How would I know without asking Google? Anyway, where was I? Oh Yes, so it's the day or at least the period when Spanish families go and clean up the family niches, mausoleums and pantheons.

Yesterday, on Saturday afternoon, the local Town Hall here in Pinoso offered a guided tour of the local cemetery to tie in with the general theme. I thought it was a great idea and I signed up straight away but nearly everyone else I spoke to about it seemed to think it was a bit strange. Indeed Maggie, who I'd signed up for the visit, decided to give it a miss so I went by myself. Amazingly, I was the only Brit in the group. There aren't many things where we aren't represented.

The Mayor and a couple of councillors were there but it was someone called Clara who did the tour. I don't know who she is but I have to say that she did a superb job. Strangely, she started her introductory remarks by saying that some people thought that the idea of a graveyard tour was a bit rocambolesco (bizarre) but she hoped that after we'd done it we wouldn't agree. Maybe she'd talked to some of the same people as me.

Clara started from the entrance way explaining why cypress trees outside (it's yews, tejos, in the UK isn't it?) went on to the reason that the graveyard had been moved from alongside the church and near the town centre as a result of a decree by the provisional government sheltering in Cadiz at the start of the 19th Century and then went on to explain the history of the cemetery in general and some of the specific tombs in particular.

We saw the disused room where autopsies were once performed, we went underground to see the grave of the first person buried there in 1912 - someone who gets free rental of their plot. We saw political rivals buried side by side, we saw Modernist and Gothic style pantheons and someone with the group had a book, a family heirloom passed from eldest son to eldest son, that explained the history and management of her own eighty space family mausoleum. The Mayor did the bit about the ossuary (the place where remains removed from old and abandoned graves and plots are buried together) in Valencià but I got the drift and I knew why Eli, another councillor, laid a floral tribute by the little sculpture there.

The whole thing lasted about an hour. One of the best small scale visits I've done for ages. Whoever thought of that idea deserves a slap on the back.

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