Monday, August 25, 2008

Asleep in Xcaret?

Nobody is sleeping at Xcaret, except, maybe, for the odd baby overcome by the scorching heat or for the majestic jaguars resting in the shade of their homonymous island. There is too much to do and too much see before you have to leave at night to afford to waste even one minute...

Xcaret (ISH-KA-RET) is an eco-park on the Yucatan coast that blends natural and human built marvels in a most fascinating way. If it were only for the underground river – a half-mile long subterranean river with chilly water that one swims in a darkness interrupted only by the shimmering light coming through rare holes in the ceiling - and my imagination would be forever captivated by this place.

There is a re-created Mayan village there and a Mexican Cemetery. There are 365 tombs on a small terraced hill, one for each day of the year.



It seems the cemetery is a work of art and only that. No real people are asleep under those clever stones. I didn’t know that when I visited it. I’m glad I didn’t - though there was plenty of doubt in my mind at the time if only because of its disagreement with the place; not knowing allowed me to read the inscriptions and to feel the deep emotion that brought tears to my eyes. I admit, I am a bit disappointed now that I know, and somehow relieved.



So, why these tombs, no matter how artistic in look and purpose, among the vivid activities of busy vacation park? A colourful reminder that Death is upon us? Some sort of a Mexican Carpe Diem? Something like the ancient Romans used to have on the walls of their banquet halls – scenes of death to make them live more vigorously? Maybe... Maybe just a distinct approach to the concept of death – laughter as a diffuser of pain and lovely memories instead of sorrow...



6 comments:

BernardL said...

I can see why you had your doubts about people actually being buried there. Very colorful.

Ropi said...

Nice park.

Sarah Hina said...

Remarkable, Vesper. I'm so glad you shared this. And I really want to take a dip in that underground river...

Those tombs are beautiful works of folk art. I can understand your relief, and your disappointment. The emotions they conjured were real, and it's natural to feel afterward that they were a bit manipulated in some way.

But I love that reminder to live more vigorously. :)

strugglingwriter said...

I tried to comment before, but blogger ate it.

Anyhow, I love these photos. I wonder if our cemeteries might be a more cheerful place (a place to celebrate the dead loved one rather than mourn) if they were this colorful.

Vesper said...

Bernard, yes, but my doubts weren't too serious because I had heard about colourful cemeteries like that before.

Very nice, Ropi.

Sarah, I'm glad you liked the pictures. That river was just fantastic.

Thank you, Paul. I wonder too...

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Maybe just a reminder that death should not be feared :-)