Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Back to the Central Cemetery

Central Cemetery of Bogotá.
A Bodmer sister. Here family lost at least
4 daughthers to epidemics or house fires around the
turn of the last century,
according to local rumors.
In tribute to Halloween, some pictures of Bogotá's Central Cemetery, which I visited a few days ago, after staying away for years. That's because the cemetery, located beside the Santa Fe neighborhood and near the red light district, has a reputation for muggings, drug taking and even shoot-outs.

That seems to have changed, however, with the cemetery's new policy of keeping its gates shut and asking for visitors' IDs, the cemetery seems to have become safer.

Nevertheless, the new do-not-enter policy also took away a lot of the cemetery's life and local color: No line of believers at Bavaria brewery founder Siegfried Kopp's tomb, waiting to give the man flowers and ask him for supernatural favors. No transvestites noting their lottery numbers on Salomé's headstone. No followers rubbing 20,000 peso bills on Garavito's tomb. Nobody scattering seed to the pigeons.

But if the cemetery has lost a lot of its old atmosphere, it's still an exhibition of Colombian history and politics.

The tomb of M-19 leader Francisco Pizarro, who ran for president.

Crypts, many for children.

The cemetery's entrance on Calle 26.

Headstones and signs being made by stonecarvers beside the cemetery.

Jose Mercado, afro-colombian union leader, kidnapped and murdered by the M-19 guerrillas.
Poet José Silva, resting beside his sister, with whom some say he was in love.
Siegfried Kopp.

Siegfried Kopp, founder of the Bavaria beer brewery. Although a German immigrant,
Kopp did not come from Bavaria.
Tomb of a Polish patriot.

Awkward neighbors: An astronomer and a supposed prostitute.
Salomé's tomb, worshipped by superstitious prostitutes.
The tomb of revolutionary leader and Colombian president Francisco de Paula Santander. Santander later clashed with Bolivar, and may have participated in a failed plot to kill Bolivar, who wanted to be made dictator of La Gran Colombia.

Soldiers' mausoleum.

Tomb for rent.
The tomb of Luis Carlos Galán, presidential candidate assassinated in 1989 by Pablo Escobar and others. A supporter of extraditing narcos to the United States for trial and imprisonment, Galán was almost certain to be elected president.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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