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Category: Current events

500. reflections

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, reflection

Time to celebrate… and take a look back. Honestly I don’t know how I managed to arrive at 500 posts about Recoleta Cemetery!

But it’s been a labor of love. I still remember my first visit to the cemetery in March 2000… wandering everywhere just to find Eva Perón’s tomb. In fact, the beauty of the place distracted me so much that I forgot about Evita until a few visits later! After moving to Buenos Aires, I developed a successful tour of the cemetery & had a crazy idea to map the entire place. Yep, I counted every single tomb, crypt, mausoleum, & cenotaph. Whew.

This blog came about in 2007 to help market that map but soon took on a life of its own. Despite a couple of long breaks & an extended stay in Australia, AfterLife continued to grow & gained readership… there’s no other English-language source like it. The map later transformed into a PDF guide & then an iPhone app with the birth of Endless Mile. Below are a few stats about this interesting journey:

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First post: 03 Oct 2007

Total # of posts: 500

Total word count: over 110,000 or about the size of a novel

Readership: averages between 4,500 & 5,000 unique visitors per month, about 300 per day. Amazing for a blog about a cemetery

Most comments: Liliana Crociati de Szaszak (currently 107)

Total number of photos posted: over 1,600… & only a few used elsewhere online without my permission!

Number of bilingual posts: currently 155, or 31%

People guided since 2003: just under 1,000! Remarkable since my groups average between 2-6 people. This number also includes maps & guides sold online.

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Here’s the big news: today & today only I’ll give away a free copy of the PDF guide to anyone who sends me their email address (robert AT recoletacemetery.com). Not only will this help spread the word about Recoleta Cemetery, but it gives everyone a chance to test drive an Endless Mile guide.

Thanks for everyone’s continued support!

Update: As of Aug 2015, the iPhone app is no longer for sale. And unfortunately the plug-in to toggle between Spanish & English does not work in newer versions of WordPress. Only English for the time being.

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474. touchscreen map

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, touch screen

Recoleta Cemetery can now boast some of the latest technology: a touchscreen monitor with an electronic map & information about more than 200 of its most important residents. Listings are categorized mainly by occupation: President, lawyer, engineer/architect, politician, military, etc. A search function also allows users to find tombs by typing a family name. Once an entry is selected, a photo gallery & biography are displayed. Cool.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, touch screen

Tapping the button ¿Cómo llegar? displays a pop-up window containing a complete map of the cemetery. As if that wasn’t snazzy enough, a green arrow flashes to show the tomb location. Colored sections on the map correspond to official divisions, & all red numbers have information available… no wonder this took a year to put together!

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, touch screen

A general information section has details about guided visits plus other services, a historic background & even a bibliography. All text is available in both English & Spanish… definitely a plus for visitors. Translations could be better but all things considered, this is a great improvement over the previous lack of information in English. As an example, take a moment to read the text for the Herlitzka family vault:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, touch screen

Unless already familiar with the cemetery—very unlikely for the majority of people who visit—the touchscreen is more useful on the way out rather than when first entering. No print copy is provided from the search, so first-time visitors would have trouble remembering the location of any tomb not on a main walkway. Of course, they could purchase a map then spend some time marking tombs of interest. But a better way to take advantage of this resource would be to search for tombs you’ve already seen. Scroll through your digital photos, then search for info.

I know from experience how difficult it is to put together a useful guide to Recoleta Cemetery. It’s so dense with tons of history & art packed inside… any attempt at organization is overwhelming. But this is a good complement to the most visited attraction in Buenos Aires.

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432. iphone app for sale

Please note that as of Aug 2015, this app is no longer for sale! The PDF version is still available (see below).

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Regular readers might notice a new button in the sidebar… yet another way to experience Recoleta Cemetery is available! Our new venture, Endless Mile, is now live & we selected Recoleta Cemetery as the subject of our first travel app for the iPhone/iPod touch.

Endless Mile, logo

A significant advance in mobile device technology has allowed this particular dream to come true. The PDF guidebook, first made available in Jan 2010, has been very well received but the app version makes a visit to the cemetery much more interactive.

High quality, color photographs—a trademark of this blog—have been incorporated as well as an explanation of additional symbols & archival images. This app presents a new way to visit the cemetery & explains why it remains the number one tourist destination in Buenos Aires.

Rufina Cambacérès, Recoleta Cemetery app, screenshot

Easy-to-use & fun to navigate, the cemetery’s top 25 tombs are highlighted in the walk. Both fans of urban legends & history buffs will find something of interest, & the app wouldn’t be complete without a description of the cemetery’s most famous resident, Eva Perón. Known simply as Evita to her devotées, her bizarre post-mortem journey is described in detail.

We’re excited to launch our company with the only app dedicated to Recoleta Cemetery. It engages those who are interested in learning more about the cemetery & makes sharing a visit with friends & family easy. The best thing about this app, however, is that it’s like consulting a tour guide whenever you want.

Thanks for your support!

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431. visits for the blind

Recoleta Cemetery, guided visit, blind

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of meeting two guides who know volumes about Recoleta Cemetery: Mario Braun & María Fernanda Gomez. As much as I research & share my discoveries in this blog, there’s always more to learn… & they shared some fascinating stories. María Fernanda authored a book about handicapped tourism (“Grupos Turísticos y Discapacidad“), so when a group of the blind toured the cemetery she was contacted to tag along & document the event… complete with two guide dogs.

Although I’ve never happened upon a group like this, I can’t help but think how wonderful it would be to guide them through the cemetery. It is a place full of sensory experiences & several statues are at ground level. Imagine reading plaques by touch & visiting the following tombs without being able to see them… fascinating!

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Comodoro Rivadavia

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Marco Avellaneda, Art Nouveau

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires

First photo courtesy of María Fernanda Gomez.

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421. exterior wall maintenance

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, workers restoring exterior wall

While cataloging photos from last year, I ran across an important event that went unposted. Repairs were underway to the exterior brick wall in February 2010 when heavy rainfall damaged the entrance gate. Somehow that story took precedence. But the structure of the perimeter wall had become a haven for pigeons & badly needed repair. Workers went opening by opening, cleared each of debris & nests, & covered each in cement. The very top of the wall was also cemented.

Note: Patchwork cement filling which has been drawn to mimic the original brick layout was done prior to the repairs mentioned above. In fact, since my first visit to the cemetery in 2000 the wall has looked like this… difficult to say when that work was done.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, exterior wall

But that’s not all they did. Instead of making nice new homes for pigeons like in the photo above, they covered each with mesh wire. Well done!

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, exterior wall

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, exterior wall

Finally, much of the interior portion of the wall was covered as well. The work looks professional, makes a visit to this particular section more pleasant & will hopefully protect the wall from the increasingly extreme climate of Buenos Aires. Some pigeons have returned since this work was performed… perhaps rows of spikes will have to be added at a later date to discourage nesting.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, exterior wall

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