Sunday, March 4, 2018

Patagonia 2017: Punta Arenas Cemetery & Farewell - Día Quince

Patagonia 2017:  Postscript – Punta Arenas Cemetery and Farewel - Día Quince – 2/22/17

An urban hike on our last morning in Chile.  Hostel Keoken is across the street from a side entrance to Cementerio Municipal, or Punta Arenas Cemetery, hailed as the most beautiful one in South America; indeed, one of the ten most beautiful cemeteries in the world.  Inaugurated in April 1894, this public cemetery is free to enter, easy to get a little bit lost in, and is considered the prime attraction of Punta Arenas.
[True story: Sara Braun, who married into the wealthy and powerful Braun family of landowners and sheep ranching, contributed funds to build the magnificent main entrance to the cemetery, with the condition that the central door be closed forever after her death, i.e. after she passed through it for the last time.]

An excellent description of the cemetery is here.

Along the cemetery’s gravel pathways are the wealthy, the famous, the humble, men of the sea, and the Unknown Indian.  They rest in marble mausoleums, granite above-ground crypts with carved headstones, and simple vaults with shadow box displays similar to those in the cemetery we visited in Puerto Natales.  

What elevates Cementerio Municipal to a top ten list, though? The 25 acres is extravagant for a town the size of Punta Arenas. Giant European cypress trees shaped into “green thumbs” dominate the cemetery.  Flowers, real and artificial, abound in vibrant colors. The groundskeeping is immaculate for the most part, although, in the less affluent "condo" neighborhoods it is a bit untidy.  Let’s take a walk:

The Braun mausoleum

Rick returned to the hostel to finish packing. Cathy and I walked down to the water for one last look on a peaceful, quiet, blue sky weekday morning.  There's a great bike/walking path beside the dark brown sand beach (plus trash and an old tire).  Grabbing one more souvenir: a stone from the Strait of Magellan.

The three of us parted ways at the airport, Cathy and me returning home while Rick continued on to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, to join his small boat tour to Antarctica.  [Later on I saw Rick’s slide show of his Antarctica experience and it was phenomenal.] 

At the airport: of course we have time for one more toast, the most potent pisco sour of all.

Until next time, Patagonia! 

“Life for two weeks on the mountain tops would show us many things about life during the other fifty weeks down below.” ~Benton MacKaye

No comments: