Party with the dead

The ground is covered with plastic bottles, empty soda cans and candy wrappers. The crowd is slowly passing by, the brightly colored bins are overflowing and there are composting toilets on the sidewalk. If I didn’t know better I would think I was at a festival site. But no, I’m at a cemetery on the outskirts of Manaus. It the second of November, All Souls’ Day. The day to commemorate the dead, visit and take care of their graves, and bring them flowers.

Under the scorching sun I wander over the huge site. An evangelist with a bible and a microphone in his hands tries to win some catholic souls. Vendors try in the meantime to sell their soda, popcorn, banana crisps, garlands and even blue painted wooden crosses to the crowds that leisurely stroll past. Some people wear a t-shirt with a picture of their deceased father, sister or son. The field changes slowly into an ocean of plastic flowers (which are said to be stolen one day later, so that they can be sold again the next year).

I silently wonder if the dead are enjoying this overhead chaos as well. It’s their party after all.

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