While browsing around the online maps of Jundiaí, I found an odd looking area that didn’t quite look like a park, but definitely wasn’t any kind of apartment or shopping area. There were trees, and row upon row of smallish boxes.
And it was a BIG area.
Zooming in, I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I had stumbled upon a giant cemetery!
My history nerd senses were buzzing, so I memorized the directions and made a point to walk through town to find it the next day.
Cemeteries are so fascinating to me, and I could spend hours strolling through them. The way people display their affection for departed loved ones is so touching, and so different in other parts of the world. I couldn’t wait to see this one.
It didn’t take me long, only about a twenty minute walk. Soon I was standing at a side gate and peering in.
It was quiet. So quiet in the middle of the city! There were a handful of maintenance workers sweeping and cleaning the grounds, and half a dozen people quietly contemplating the resting place of their family members or friends, and no one else.
The noise of the traffic didn’t even seem to carry over the walls.
So I wandered quietly too, feeling the sun on my shoulders as I explored.
This cemetery is a little over a hundred years old (based on the dates I could find on the markers). There were so many different kind of crypts, it was clear that most families have spent as much as they could afford to build them.
Some were simple brick boxes, covered with colorful tiles and basic name plaques.
Some were mini cathedrals. Monuments build in honor of the departed.
Most were family plots with room for eight or more coffins inside, and it was quite common to see a small, glass enclosed room in the front with just enough space for flowers, pictures and candles. They were obviously spaces to mourn privately.
Besides the expected flowers, photos and candles, there were also dolls and trinkets, hand written notes, and even small pieces of food.
I walked, and walked for nearly an hour.
I noticed these metal plaques. Most graves had several, but I’m not entirely sure what they are for. My guess is they are a sort of identifying ‘license’ tag which is registered in the office for each person encrypted there. “Perpetua” means that the body is licensed to stay where it is forever. The rest are only allowed a temporary stay, which will leave room for others later. I don’t know how long the temporary “lease” is for, or how much it costs.
And I saw two crypts which are in the very beginning stages of construction.
I was really curious about this one. It was built on a slope, so did the builder lay the bricks on the slope and build the rest on an angle? Or did he try to dig into the hill to lay them level only to see the whole thing tip over through the years? It was the only one that wasn’t flat.
And there was this wall, most likely holding only ashes, each space with just enough room for a small urn, each one marked with their license plate. No names, no dates.
I saw two cats roaming the grounds, and two very nice shelters with fresh water and two bowls of cat food in them. They are clearly welcome here.
I’d seen the whole thing after my hour of walking, happy that I had taken the time to come over.
I’m curious about why they don’t bury people below the ground. I understand the practicality of fitting eight or ten family members on a small plot of ground, but this area is on the top of a hill and not prone to any kind of flooding and the ground is good, soft earth. This was the second Brazilian cemetery I’ve seen, and the other was also above ground.
I read a really interesting article here about the differences between rich and poor burials in Rio de Janeiro, but I didn’t see any open dirt areas in this cemetery like he described. Maybe that’s a different cemetery all together?
I’m glad I spent the afternoon there, and I’m looking forward to visiting the other cemeteries in town. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but I find them peaceful, beautiful, and good reminders that life is short so we need to get on with the business of living it and loving those close to us while we can.