I got lost in a cemetery yesterday. It’s the General Cemetery in Santiago where over 2 million people are buried! To get there, you take the yellow metro line to the Cemeteries station and you’ll walk straight out to a gate of the Cemetery.
Walking in the cemetery feels like walking around in a suburb of Santiago! There are roads for cars and vendors selling water and snacks next to the road. I was not able to walk through the entire cemetery – it is so big you need a bicycle to be able to get from one side to the other. The scale of the mausoleums next to the road give the cemetery the feel of a city…for dead people.
Many Chileans have explained to me that people in Chile are extremely class concious. If you live in the wrong neighbourhood, go to the wrong school or wear the wrong clothes, apparently life is not great for you. This attitude seems to be carried to the grave. The wealthy families have large mausoleums with their family names carved on, while the less rich people have smaller tombstones in a wall or on a patch of grass.
The cemetery did not have that creepy atmosphere I you sometimes feel in cemeteries. It’s beautiful with many trees and flowers growing between the graves. There’s a scene in the movie double Jeopardy, where Ashley Judd walks around in a cemetery in the USA and then she gets kidnapped or assaulted or something. As I was stumbling between the graves, looking for the exit, I realised that a scene like that would work perfectly in this cemetery. You can’t see around the corners of the graves and you hear noises, but never see where they come from.
Many famous Chileans such as singers Victor Jarra and Violetta Parra are buried in this cemetery as well as most Chilean presidents.