Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The other day a friend commented on a picture I posted on Facebook of a cemetery in Wyoming. It got me thinking that in the past few years I, like many people out there, have gravitated to cemeteries in my travels.

Cemeteries are fascinating, often time capsules, often little history lessons on a peoples or community. Their traditions or beliefs on display for people to see. It's a special feeling to walk among the tombs that hold the remains of people who lived their lives hundreds of years before us, or see the love or neglect for those who have died recently.

Here are some pictures of my visits, through travel or work, where people lay their dead.

Oaxaca, Mexico:

During a visit to Oaxaca, Mexico in 2010 we stumbled upon a small cemetery when we stayed in the small town of Mazunte on the Pacific Coast of the state.

The cemetery was tiny, but in a weird way, charming.

After watching the sun set from the beach, we walked back to the cemetery. It was pitch black and quiet. Perfect setting to paint it with light. The result is the picture below.

Oaxaca, Mexico
The cemetery is on the way to a popular beach.

Arapaho Indian Reservation, Wyoming, USA:

While visiting Wyoming in December we stopped by a Catholic cemetery in the Arapaho Indian Reservation. The most striking thing from the start was a large statue of a crucified Jesus. It was large too, the cemetery, with hundreds of crosses as far as the eye could see. Some were military style headstones.

Our guide was Erika's father, a nearly life long resident of Wyoming, and he said that tradition on the rez calls for people to leave the wooden statues until they decay. Once they decay the family of the deceased can stop mourning.

Wyoming, USA

Wyoming, USA

White Eagle Memorial Preserve, Goldendale, Washington, USA:

For an assignment this past year, I filmed a man's "green" burial. The small but growing industry features burials that have little to none artificial materials or methods. No embalming, no elaborate coffins or 6-feet deep, concrete holes.

The burial grounds, located near Goldendale, Wash., had more than a dozen people. Some mounds were disappearing into the surroundings. Another -- the founder's -- is kept up by his widow, adorned with wild flowers and animal bones.

The man I filmed was buried in a hole 3 feet deep to hurry decomposition.

Washington State, USA

The man's son saying one last good bye after burial.
Here's a few seconds of b-roll from the project that shows two wilderness burial spots.

Havana, Cuba:

Shot with my trusty but now dead Olympus point-and-shoot in 2009.

Havana's main cemetery - ®the Necropolis Cristobal Colon - is massive. Many Cuban historical figures are here. Many mausoleums are luxurious, time capsules when there were many wealthy families in Cuba. (Yes, there's classes in Cuba. High government officials live in posh neighborhoods.)

The pictures, though, are of the tomb of "La Milagrosa." This woman, Amelia, was said to have died in 1901 during child birth. When she was buried, her baby's body was put at her feet. Legend has it that when her tomb was later opened, the baby was in her arms. Many people come and pray. They leave these engraved messages on the tomb. People leave dolls as well. Women who are having trouble conceiving come and pray. Many people credit the Miraculous one for miracles.

Granada, Nicaragua:

Shot with my trusty but now dead Olympus point-and-shoot in 2007.

The elegant and ancient cemetery in Granada, Nicargua is purported to be the oldest in Central America. Located in the beautiful and colorful colonial city of Granada, I could have spent a couple of days here. The tombs were old and intricate - a history of a city's once proud past.


  1. I love that you put all of the images and stories up in one post, M.

  2. These are gorgeous images, Manuel. I love cemeteries and love this theme. ~Isolde

  3. I was just at that cemetery in Granada. That city kept being burned to the ground. You captured the idea beautifully that these places are time capsules. keep the posts coming!