Category Archives: Cemeteries

I love cemeteries & I’m a member of Find A Grave. If you have anybody you’re looking for let me know the location info and I’ll be happy to go out searching and report back.

Dia De Muertos in Oaxaca

Ok so lately I haven’t been doing as much research about the places I go. Fuck it! I’m trying to let things unfold organically and just go with the flow.聽 Less Stressful. I like to tell myself. So I only googled ‘dia de los muertos oaxaca’ a few times before my trip. Not much came up, but I聽 thought I had a basic idea of what I was getting in to. Turns out I did not. Have any idea what I was getting in to. I like solo independent travel. No groups, no tours. Authentic experiences only. Well in Oaxaca over dia de muertos those are REALLY hard to come by.

The hotel I stayed at had a tour desk offering Dia de Muertos tours. (It’s Dia de Muertos FYI…not Dia de los Muertos). I didn’t inquire because, like I said, I’m not a tour person. I thought I could do it on my own and I wanted an authentic experience. But once you get there you realize the area you’re dealing with is large and spread out. There are a shit ton of villages and there’s a lot going on. But nobody seems to know exactly what is going on where and when. So there’s no fucking way in hell you’re gonna be able to have an authentic experience on your own unless you speak to EVERY single taxi driver/person you see and ask if they know what celebrations are happening that night. See if you can get a general consensus and use that info to plan each night.

The celebrations start on October 31st and go through November 3rd or 4th depending on what village. There are a few very popular ones that you will hear about that are supposed to be ‘the best’ (like Xoxocotlan), but EVERY village has a celebration and there are a million villages so there not only are a shit ton of options, but there is quite a bit you will miss out on. And BTW Xoxocotlan is a shit show. Tours go to it. It’s VERY well decorated, but there’s a million people. I went by myself. Took a taxi that told me I’d be fucked on the way home ’cause there aren’t any taxis out there. So I panicked and rushed through the old cemetery (there’s an old one and a new one – which I completely forgot)聽 before I was stranded in Xoxo all night. before Only to find out it was all LIES! I asked a vendor and they told me there were group taxis (different than the yellow ones) around the corner and I got back to Oaxaca just fine around midnight. The other place that celebrates on October 31st is Atzompa. But in my panic about getting stranded in the middle of nowhere I forgot to write that down and missed out on that one. Damnit! Next time.

The next few nights were spent following a list that I found on line that listed a few other villages that celebrated on different days. The list was wrong. I took taxis to various villages and each one was a bust. The celebration was either the night before or the night after. But after that happened on November 2nd my taxi driver took me about 35 miles outside of Oaxaca center to a random village that was having their comparsa (village parade that lasts all night) which was absolutely amazing. I spend all night driving from village to village taking part in any comparsas we could find. It was an amazing experience. One that I will never forget.

And forget about asking at the ‘Tourist’ kiosks. They have pamphlets for the activities happening in town that are geared toward the 50/60/70 year old crowd that’s in town for the holiday. There wasn’t a single thing on their pamphlet that seemed authentic or was something I’d be interested in.

So short story boring. If you wanna do Dia de Muertos independently:
++Pretend you want to go on a tour and ask about which cemeteries they go to THAT night. Then…
++Find a reliable taxi to take you, wait, and drive you around all night. – BE CAREFUL WITH THIS ONE. I HAD VERY GOOD LUCK, BUT I DID MEET 2 YOUNG KIDS WHO’S TAXI THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO RETURN TO GET THEM NEVER CAME. IF I HADN’T HAVE COME ALONG THEY WOULD HAVE SPENT THE NIGHT ON THE SIDE OF A RURAL VILLAGE ROAD OR IN THE CEMETERY WITH THE FAMILIES I SUPPOSE. WE WERE THE ONLY TOURISTS THERE.
++Ask around as to what’s going on and where. And be prepared for a few misses. There is SO much going on. You might not necessarily get to where you wanted to go, but you might just end up having a better time if you are open and just roll with whatever comes up.

Have fun and be safe!
p.s. Oaxaca is the safest state in Mexico so use common sense but don’t be paranoid. Or scared. Or nervous. Or….

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St. Roch Cemetery, New Orleans.

There are SO many beautiful cemeteries in NOLA! Every time I’m there I try and visit at least one. On my last visit I stopped by St. Roch cemetery for the first time. It’s in the St. Roch neighborhood; which is north of St. Claude just opposite the Marigny. And it’s dedicated to…..St. Roch 馃檪 (pronounced rock). He is the patron saint of invalids and is often is invoked against pestilence and the plague.

It’s your typical above ground burials – New Orleans style cemetery, but in the middle there is this small chapel dedicated to…. you guessed it. And inside the chapel there’s a shrine chock FULL of all kinds of ex-votos (offering to a saint or divinity given when your prayer is answered). The assortment is quite interesting. There are artificial legs and leg braces, plaster hands and feet, at least one red plastic heart, silk flowers, an old camera, several old rusted crutches, old shoes, back braces, all sorts of things left by those seeking St. Roch’s help and by those who’s prayers have been answered. Even the marble bricks that make up the floor of the shrine are inscribed with words of thanks.

When I visited I was the only one in the chapel. And once I made it past the slightly unnerving gaze of the giant St. Roch statue, it felt very peaceful….and maybe a little creepy at the same time. But I always feel like that when I’m the only one in the cemetery. Definitely check it out if you’re in the ‘hood.

St. Roch Cemetery聽 #1 & #2 are located at 1725 St. Roch Avenue.

Oh and this article on the cemetery is fantastic.

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Savannah, GA – 1 day is 1 too many.

Savannah was one of my least favorite places I’ve ever been. EVER! It smells like shit and the nickname of ‘Slow – vannah’ is completely 100% right on because there’s fuck all to do. Dislike. But if you’ve already bought your ticket and you can’t get a refund then here’s some tips to help you survive your, hopefully less than, 3 days there.

Where not to stay:

DO NOT STAY at The Thunderbird Inn. They try to tell you it’s the ‘hippest hotel in Savannah’, but it’s a shit hole. There’s nothing hip about it. It’s dirty, old and overpriced. Being they charge over $100 per night, you’d think they could afford to make some improvements. AVOID AVOID AVOID.

What to do:

I love ghosts, ghost stories, cemeteries, haunted hotels, haunted pubs, etc…And Savannah’s claim as ‘The Most Haunted City in America’ is one of the reasons I decided to visit (that and the fact that you can drink in public). But all three ghost tours I went on more or less sucked. So choose your ghost tours carefully and it’s probably a good idea to lower your expectations. Then hope and pray you get a good tour guide.

Ghost City Tours has a money back guarantee. So technically you can’t go wrong with them. They even do a haunted pub crawl. Which I went on. It was OK. We didn’t actually go in to many places. Most of the time we just stopped in front of the place, the guides told a story and then we moved on. My tour guides weren’t the best :/

Spend an afternoon wandering around Bonaventure Cemetery. You can get a cab out there for around $10. I think that’s the easiest thing to do if you don’t have a car. It’s a beautiful cemetery, pretty big with lots of trees covered in Spanish moss.

Two of the most visited graves are that of Little Gracie and Johnny Mercer. Little Gracie is located at Lot 99 in Section E, off of Mullryne Way. Johnny Mercer is located at Lot 48 in Section H, along Johnny Mercer Lane.

When I went out there the Grave Finder machine wasn’t working and the office was close. Probably best to call ahead and get any gravesite information before you make the trip out there. If you are looking for somebody there is no way you’ll find them with out the location information. The place is huge.
Skip River Street. I wanted to like it, but it’s just a bunch of restaurants and shops for tourists. Nothing cute about it. Except for the cobblestone. The best part about it were the narrow, old, steep stairs leading from River Street up to Bay Street. Danger Will Robinson.
Moon River Brewing Company was one of my least favorite places in Savannah, but it’s seriously haunted so I suggest making a REALLY QUICK stop. Buy a drink and then ask to see the basement. I didn’t see anything or capture anything on film, but It’s supposedly extra special haunted. It’s been featured on Ghost Adventures and probably a few other ghost hunting programs.

Where to eat:

For breakfast I went to The Sentient Bean every day. They serve delicious vegetarian/vegan food and their coffee is organic and fair trade.

I had several delicious meals at Zunzi’s II. I highly recommend the Fisherman’s Deck Sandwich and their special sauces OMG. So good. They have a good beer selection as well. Reasonable prices and delicious food = lots of people. Be prepared for a bit of a wait. But it’s worth it!

And The Olde Pink House holy shit. One of the best meals I’ve ever had. It’s expensive, but worth the splurge. Sit in the basement. It has more ambience. And it’s haunted! By a girl who will lock you in the ladies room. I guess the toilet used to be the dry goods closet so she sees you in there, thinks you’re stealing things, then locks you in. At least that’s the story one of the employees told me. I didn’t get locked in. I was disappointed 馃檨

Where to drink:

The best dive bar I found was Abes on Lincoln. Get it? Abes? On Lincoln? HA!

There’s a hidden speakeasy on Williamson Street. Supposedly you need to ask around in order to get a key so you can get it, but I had a few people tell me that all you had to do was knock on the door and they’ll let you in. I went on a Sunday and it was closed. Damn shame.

Instead I ended up around the corner at Chucks Bar (301 W River Street). And I loved every minute of it! It’s a gay bar, but you can’t really tell until you sit down and start talking to people. It’s very divey, they have a jukebox and it’s haunted! The bartender had some great stories to tell about spinning bar stools and furniture being moved around. His stories gave me chills. Really freaked me the fuck out!

My favorite coffee shops (from most to least favorite):

THE BEST PART OF SAVANNAH:

And last but not least the BEST part of Savannah is that one of the runways at Savannah/Hilton Head International was built around two gravestones. Apparently part of the deal with the airport was that they could use the land, and they could move everybody else that was in the family cemetery, but they couldn’t move the graves of Catherine and Richard Dotson. So if you’re on the right hand side of the plane pay attention as you’re taxiing and you can see them right before take off.

Airport graves at SVA.
There’s a headstone in the middle of the photo, slightly to the right.

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San Lazaro Cemetery

I wasn’t feeling Antigua. It was beautiful, but there were way too many tourists (most of whom are there to learn Spanish at one of the 3 million ‘Language Schools’ in the town) and I felt it was lacking authenticity. Whatever that means. I don’t know I just didn’t like it. I didn’t feel like it was very ‘Guatemalan’.聽 But it was the only place I went in Guatemala so what the hell do I know.

With that said, one of my favorite things about Antigua was the San Lazaro cemetery which is located directly behind the bus terminal.

With regards to safety…I’m not really sure. To me ALL cemeteries feel like the perfect place to get robbed. This one felt no different. I went with a friend. Perhaps it’s not the best idea to go by yourself? I’m not sure. I would ask the Tourist Police if it’s safe to do so (they have a booth near the campground). We were told not to go to Cerro de la Cruz by ourselves by…. I can’t even remember who….other tourists, the Lying Planet, Tripadvisor, all of the above. But when I asked the Tourist Police they said it was 100% completely fine to walk up there by yourself. SO. Ask the Tourist Police if you’re feeling hesitant. Be smart, but don’t let fear stop you!

Cementerio San Lazaro

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Elmwood Cemetery

Elmwood Cemetery is Memphis’ oldest active cemetery. You have to drive through the hood and over a bridge (kinda like going to Grandma’s house only different) and voila! You’re transported to an hidden oasis full of trees and greenery and peacefulness. There are a lot of trees! If I remember correctly I believe they’re a few tree species away from becoming a certified arboretum. It kinda reminded me of Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. I highly recommend going on a tour. I went on an after hours tour with Kimberly as the guide and it was fantastic. She’s a great tour guide and very knowledgeable about the history of her cemetery. And there’s booze! I highly recommend!

Elmwood Cemetery

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Necr贸polis Crist贸bal Col贸n

The beautiful and expansive Necropolis Cristobal Colon located in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba was built by the Spanish architect,聽Calixto de Loira, in 1871. It’s one of the largest cemeteries in the world (The largest in the Americas)聽 and it’s the final resting place for many of Cuba’s historically and culturally important figures.

The most visited tomb in the cemetery is that of ‘La Milagrosa’ or ‘The Miraculous One’.

If you can't find her ask anybody that works there and they'll point you in the right direction.
If you can’t find her ask anybody that works there and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Amelia Goyri de Adot and her husband had waited years to get married as they were from different social classes and her family wouldn’t consent to the marriage. That is until after he obtained the rank of Captain in the war and they deemed him worthy enough to marry into their family. Shortly after their marriage she became pregnant, but in her 8th month of pregnancy she developed preeclampsia. And on May 3rd, 1901 Amelia and her unborn baby died.

Her husband,聽Jos茅 Vicente,聽 was inconsolable. He was completely and utterly heartbroken.聽 Every morning he would bring her flowers and spend time with her. He would sit and talk to her, tell her how his life was going and knock with one of the four brass knockers to try and wake her up. When it was time to go he would walk away backwards as a sign of respect.

Years later when the grave聽 was opened not only were both bodies discovered to be incorrupt (which Catholic’s believe to be a sign of divine intervention), but the baby was now in its’ mother’s arms.

As this incredible story spread through out Havana the faithful started visiting La Milagrosa’s grave to ask her for help in making their wishes come true. To this day she is revered as a saint to Cubans and many have called for her to be canonized by the Catholic Church. Thousands of people come from near and far to bring her flowers or other gifts and ask for favors.

The tradition is to greet her,聽 knock on the grave with one of the four brass knockers, ask for something, lay down a gift (some coins will do), circle the grave, and walk away backwards never turning your back.

A lone palm tree

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This article in the Radio Rebelde has more info on ‘La Milagrosa’ if you’re interested.

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