Sunday, 2 November 2008

At The Cemetery

Last night after our fun in the pool we decided to pop along to the cemetry and see what it was like. Well, the sight was breathtaking! All these beautifully painted white graves (it really would be shameful to be the only one who hadn't bothered!) topped with tiles or freshly laid dark sand. Then a mixture of candles pushed in the sand or in little red tubs, generally 10 or 20 on each grave (except for the very few where no one had turned up so someone put one on to stop it looking too lonely). There wasn't too much mud either. As for the number of people there, I was amazed! Even more amazingly Bertie said that it was pretty empty and that today, journee des defuncts, would be much busier. Mum took some photos of the candles which I hope come out, but here is a photo I found of that same cemetry at Morne a l'eau, courtesy of http://travelwithcandace.com/archives/category/guadeloupe/page/2.

The cemetry was full of people standing chatting, catching up - definitely a good time to find someone you wanted to see, especially if you happened to know where their family grave was! Definitely not a good time for quiet reflection and meditation... Such is the "commercial" aspect of the celebration, that they even had people at the gates selling various snacks and things.

I forgot to mention that one of the people at work in the cemetry this week was a man known as "Mafia"! Honestly! Apparently he is a force to be reckoned with, taking the best jobs and the best part of the money too...!

Today we had a great time at the Maison de Paix, but were very sorry to be saying goodbye to our Texan missionaries who return to the Lone Star State on Tuesday for their retirement after a wonderful 35 years service here. What will I do without our weekly chats and cuppas, as well as all the encouragement and cultural insight they provided? Kindly, they have left me a mug, something I have been short of here! There was a lovely meal of columbo made with cabri (goat) and so many cakes to choose from!

Whilst there I had an interesting chat with a lady who works as a guide around the cultural places of interest in Pointe a Pitre, including the cemetry. She explained that in the past they had three parts to a cemetry - slaves, masters, and freedmen. The PaP cemetry even had separate sections for those who committed suicide and those killed in the hurricane of 1928. Bodies used to be buried in churches, but Napoleon did away with this for reasons of hygiene and ordered that all cemetries be a certain distance from the town centre. We asked why they were by the sea, and she suggested it was due to the soft sand easy to dig up.

The girls have gone back in the paddling pool and are shrieking their heads off. We are somewhat pleased to read of Hamilton's narrow victory today. Oh, and did you happen to see the Spurs v Liverpool score yesterday..?! Stop those two point jokes right now!

3 comments:

bachman said...

Please, I hate to be fussy, when your blogs are soooo interesting, but it is 'cemetery/cemeteries'!

Hevs said...

Thanks dad!

mum said...

I discovered this am that the candleholders are available in a local supermarche called 'Leader Price' - Add your own French accent! - for a mere o,64 euros