Only Gringo graveside


LIKE EVERY YEAR, we went to the downtown cemetery this morning to tidy up the grave of my child bride’s oldest brother, gone about 25 years now.

The graveyard is directly downtown and — due to crowded conditions, I imagine — is not open the previous night, the famous Night of the Dead when relatives sit till dawn amid marigolds and candles. The graves are so tightly packed there’s no room for both relatives and tourists too.

But it’s open in the morning, and locals flood inside to gussy up the graves, light candles and incense, and leave their best wishes with the interred in broad daylight. That’s what we do. And there are no tourists because they’re recuperating after staying up all night visiting outlying villages and their splashy graveyards.

Ironically, though our town is one of the most well-known in Mexico for its Day of the Dead doings, neither of the two downtown cemeteries are open on the night of November 1. You must head out of town if you want to see the stuff that makes us famous. To places with names like Tzintzuntzan, Ihuatzio, Arocutin and my personal favorite, Cucuchucho, which sounds like a passing train.

But let’s return to our downtown graveyard.

Invariably, I am the only Gringo among the hundreds of people.

Another item of interest: Planted two plots down from my brother-in-law is a fellow — young, I imagine — who came out on the wrong end of a gunfight with cops three years ago. Here is what I remember. There was a shootout between police and some narcos in late October of 2011. It was written up in the local press.

Four days later, we were in the cemetery on our annual visit, and I noticed the fresh grave nearby, someone named Luis Enrique but his nickname was Choco. It was a plain metal marker painted black. It included his name, the date of his demise — that same late October day — and an automatic rifle was painted on there too.

Today I noticed the original metal marker still stood, but directly next to it was a nice marble headstone, also engraved with Luis Enrique’s full name, his nickname Choco — and the machine gun too.

On finishing our work, we packed up our gear — broom, dustpan, brush, trash bag, etc. — and headed to the main plaza for a nice cafecito. A couple of hours later, we dined on chicken meatballs, rice and beans.

A year from now we’ll do pretty much the same thing, the Goddess willing.

I’m no spring chicken.

14 thoughts on “Only Gringo graveside

    1. Ms. Shoes: So there are dead Gringos in your cemetery? I doubt there are any in the one downtown here or, even less likely, my neighborhood graveyard. We didn’t make it to our neighborhood graveyard last night. Too lazy. We were in our jammies and watching a movie on Netflix.


      1. Walter Hans Bensel Krause is a German who’s reposed there since the ’80s. There is a Brit, Charles Something-or-Other, who was buried there around 1990. And there’s Victor Emmanuel Nahmad, who died not long after his first birthday, in 1931. Given that the Star of David adorns his lonely tombstone, I just have a feeling that his parents weren’t native-born Mexicans. I’d bet that there are dead Gringos in both cemeteries you’ve mentioned. Gringos lived and died in (your town) and the rest of Mexico long before you or I or any of the readers of this blog showed up on the scene, back in the day when cremation wasn’t fashionable.


        1. Ms. Shoes: It’s possible there’s a Gringo buried in one of the downtown cemeteries, but I doubt there’s one here in my neighborhood graveyard. But who knows?


  1. I have been searching for a word, in my aging skull, to describe the idea of your daytime visit. The best I can come up with is “approachable.” It was both respectful and practical in its sense of remembrance. Nice essay.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hopefully you never have any kind of bronca with Choco’s family. Sounds like people you don’t want to mess with.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we just wrote up Halloween.


    1. Kim: And that’s why I did not mention his last name. And why I never mention the town where I live. In any event, Choco made his choice, and now lives, so to speak, with the outcome. May he do better in the next life.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Really, Mexico is chock-a-block with all kinds of amazing place names. At one point I was wondering about stringing a bunch of them together like poetry. But seriously? What rhymes with Ocoyoacac? Or Tepetlaoxtoc? It would require a far cleverer man than I.

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