14 May 2007

Cementerio Fabuloso!

In typical genealogist’s fascination with cemeteries, or perhaps more than most, I enjoy visiting these quiet places to see how different people accord respect to their ancestors. However, during a recent visit to Mexico, I came across the most bizarre cemetery yet. Cementerio Mexicano del Pueblo Maya was inaugurated on 1 November 2004 (Dia de los Muertos—Mexico’s celebrated Day of the Dead) as an element of a theme park! Gulp. Ixcaret Park at Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan added this new attraction, claiming it as a fusion of the Maya and the Spanish, creating a new race. They began to lose me at that point. Creating a new race from the dead sounds more like a zombie movie or a mad DNA experiment than an artificial cemetery.

Unfortunately—or fortunately—I was not able to visit the cementerio myself, so my observations are based on an illustrated newspaper article. The owner of Xcaret Park and his son directed designers and artists to reproduce spectacular gravesites, monuments and crypts from many real locations in Mexico. The Mayan part? Forget it. As far as I can see, some lip service is paid to Mayan symbolism only in the basic layout of the setting, something to do with numbers of levels and objects. Do we even know what the Mayan did with their dead? The “structures” all reflect Christian culture, indeed with numerous churches among them, and thus the cementerio is very likely worth a visit to see eye-catching death styles of the devout. It is not clear from the article if the inauguration two and a half years ago means it is open to the public. It’s not yet on the Xcaret website.

Among the 365 reproductions at this time is one true burial site. The chief construction engineer for the park died after the cemetery was completed and was buried among his own artifacts. Milagroso!

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