Hey there everyone! I’m back again with another blog post. I know I don’t post super frequently on here anymore and most of my blog posts have been recaps of visits from a prior week than when I am actually writing them but I hope that regardless of this you continue to stay tuned!
The days are winding down and believe it or not, there’s only about 5 weeks left until I begin my journey back to the states. I’ve been starting to reflect on this more lately and it seems incredible to me how quickly this experience has been going by. I am savoring every single day as it all begins to come to an end.
With this being said, as it gets closer to December it continues to get increasingly warmer each day and usually by about midday the sun is shining bright in the beautiful blue sky (finally, a blue sky in Lima, I thought the day would never come). Yes, that’s right: Spring is here in Lima! By the time I leave this place in mid December it will be full on summer and I’ll be going back home to frigid Philadelphia for the beginning of the winter season.
But instead of thinking about going home right now, I’m going to focus this post on describing a really unique and special opportunity that I had last Thursday right here in Lima. Thursday, November 1st, was another “Feriado Nacional”(national holiday) here for Día de todos los santos (“All Saints’ Day”). “All Saints’ Day” (also known as: “All Hallows’ Day” or “The Feast of All Saints”) is a Christian festival that takes place on November 1st in order to honor all of the saints. One of the common traditions on “All Saints’ Day” is that families will often visit cemeteries where their loved ones are buried in order to put flowers and candles on the gravestones. With my Peruvian Social Reality course this semester, I had the unique opportunity to visit one of Lima’s cemeteries (The Nueva Esperanza cemetery) and commemorate the dead on Día de todos los santos along with other limeños.
The Nueva Esperanza cemetery is located in a poorer, outlying sector of southern Lima in the district of Villa María del Triunfo. It was created in 1961 and is the largest cemetery in Perú as well as the second largest in the entire world. On November 1st (Día de todos los santos) the cemetery has one of its largest crowds, as families come to celebrate their dead loved ones. I witnessed something like I had never seen before at any other cemetery I’ve been to in my life. I was overwhelmed by intense emotions during my time at the cemetery from what I was seeing, smelling, and hearing. It was not the typical cemetery experience where one feels sad; however, I cannot entirely put into words or describe what my feelings were while being there.
Both inside and outside of the cemetery was very crowded. There was traditional music playing at the grave sites and lots of food vendors as well as people selling all kinds of Peruvian dishes inside of the cemetery. The graves were literally on the hills of the cemetery and people were celebrating while eating and drinking at the site of their deceased loved ones.
The whole experience was just spectacular and I feel very fortunate to have been able to go to the cemetery on Día de todos los santos. To me the whole idea of celebrating the dead in a way to almost bring them back to life seems very paradoxical. Having seen something like this makes me think more deeply about death; it is almost as though those who are dead have never really died because we keep them alive and with us through our memories. This spiritual bond that exists between both the dead and the living is so powerfully apparent from what I saw last week during this grand festival that took place at the cemetery. This is definitely an experience that I will never forget.
Below are some photos that I took from inside of the cemetery.