Published on May 8th, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
VIDEO SLIDESHOW: Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires
Walking into the historic Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires is like staring at faces of the past. During my most recent visit to Argentina’s capital, I made yet another visit to this massive resting place for the nation’s wealthy and famous (including Evita Perón, the legendary first lady). The elaborate marble mausoleums that line the narrow walkways at this 19th-century cemetery are grand; some the size of homes, complete with stairways leading down to the rooms where caskets are kept. But what strikes me most are the countless sculptures, some of which depict celestial beings, and some of which realistically portray the dearly departed. Their faces stare at visitors in mysterious silence, challenging us to guess what their lives were like. In addition to the required stop at the tomb of Evita Perón, one of the most compelling stories has to do with a 19-year-old girl named Rufina Cambaceres, who was dressing to go to the Colón theater one day in 1902 when her parents found her, apparently dead, in her bedroom. The next day, she was entombed at Recoleta Cemetery. The story goes that a few days later, either cemetery workers or visiting family members noticed that her coffin had been moved. When they opened Rufina’s coffin, they found her body frozen in a different position, trying to escape, and scratches marked the inside of the coffin. She supposedly had been buried alive. I’ve assembled a few of my favorite images of Recoleta Cemetery here. To see even more, visit LatinFlyer.com’s Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/latinflyer/ and the video channel at http://www.youtube.com/latinflyermagazine.