At the beginning of November, I made the trek to the Cementerio General here in Mérida. It’s taken me a while to write about the experience because of the holidays and frankly, the whole experience was quite humbling to me. I went to the cemetery with an open mind of what I might see and experience, as well as with a desire and intent to respect not only the people whose final resting place this was, but their relatives as well. I felt that it was important to keep in mind that I could unexpectedly bump into a mourner while photographing the tombs.
Truly, this was an experience. I woke up early, having read that the site opened at 5 o’clock in the morning and wanting to beat the heat of the day, as well as get some good morning light. I left a little later than I’d planned and took a bus to Plaza Grande. From there, I walked. I wasn’t sure where to catch the bus that would take me the rest of the way and it was a cool morning and my walk would take me through a part of Mérida I hadn’t been to before.
I arrived to the cemetery at around 7:30 to discover it did not open until 8:00 and my information was incorrect. Things always happen for a reason, right? While I was waiting to be allowed in, I met a gentleman who worked doing statuary for the cemetery. His shop was right across from where I was waiting and after visiting for a while, he invited me to see the shop. In the back, they had many statues that had been removed from the cemetery due to damage either from age, tropical storms or hurricanes. These were in various stages of decay but so beautiful in their own light. Really, this was a perfect introduction to the variety of statuary and tombs I would find inside.
He was kind enough to allow me to photograph for a while and then graciously took me on a tour of cemetery. He shared information with me that I would not have known or even thought to research without his descriptions. He guided me to and through the oldest part of the cemetery. As we were walking, he showed me various interesting tombs and related little bits of information that added to the color and history of the site for me.
After we parted company, I spent a few hours taking photographs both with my traditional lenses, as well as with the pinhole lens I had made specifically for this trip. I was not enamored with the final shots from the pinhole and will be reworking it a bit before my next trip to the cemetery. I didn’t feel the images were as sharp as they should have been, so I am going to do a bit of modification and see if I can’t get better results.
For now, here are a few of the images I took that are finished and ready for viewing. I’ll be posting more over the next few days.