I have put a lot of thought and some hours into coming up with this weeks show of photos. A show that will interest you and bring you some idea of what Nova Friburgo is about. I started with the common idea that we are all trying to capture – our town. And it basically went down hill from there.
I started this blog in order to talk about what I could find GOOD about living in Brasil, about Rio de Janeiro and about Nova Friburgo. I have focused my eye on the color, the forest, the flowers, the positive parts of the culture, the positive aspects of the people. This has not been hard because there is much beauty in Brasil. But there are also crumbling buildings, gray sooty walls, dark dingy spaces, houses that are shells made of red brick and are a patchwork of castaway building materials, beggars with many problems are on the streets - literally underfoot on the sidewalks and curbs, on the streets there's aggressive aggravating traffic belching nose and confusion. These things I have not written about because I needed to be forced to see the beauty around me if I was to continue to live here. With this understanding and background, we are ready to visit the Nova Friburgo Cemitério – the Cemetery St John the Baptist.
No, NO, sorry we have to go the long way around. I have to work my way around to saying something good…..
To me graveyards, cemeteries, burial grounds, churches, Cathedrals, crosses, headstones, mausoleums, angels and beauty are all synonymous. Like botanical gardens, everywhere I travel I visit churches and their cemeteries. They are places of beauty and grace, history and life. They reflect a culture’s core character. In Kristiansand, Norway the cemetery was guarded by a memorial to the love of a mother, its headstones faced the front door of the church. They looked as though they were marching towards heaven each carrying a bouquet of fresh flowers. As a reflection of Kristiansand's clean and orderly streets, the headstones were uniform in size and all planted with flowers. A reflection of the Norwegian core culture.
In the Cathedrals of France and Italy, the Popes, Cardinals, and Saints have exalted burial places. The great and the small cathedrals’ main apse and basilicas are lined with small chapels, walls and sculptures donated by the families to honor their dead (and the political standing of the important family name?). Throughout these countries, there are war memorials, graves of the unnamed soldier, lists of all soldiers of towns and villages lost in the great wars. In Frascati, Italy a memorial stands to the 6000 innocent citizens that were killed by Allied bombs during WWII. (see also Frascati and other family gatherings)
From antiquity to modern, graveyards show man’s need to honor his ancestors, his family, to remember, to grieve. Many small towns and villages of Brasil have small but beautiful, simple but loved - churches and cemeteries.
In the central section of Nova Friburgo the local cemetery is a place of darkness and confusion. Climbing randomly up the side of a hill, butting up to stacks of houses coming down; at one time it may have been beautiful but now overgrown with tombstones jumbled, shoulder to shoulder with other’s family graves. Headstones are often dirty, cracked, broken, forgotten. It is not a place to visit, to sit and reflect, to honor your lost family. The chapel where most funerals are held is a plain, rectangular building with metal framed windows, no grace to be found in its simplicity – This chaos, this confusion, this lack of care is what is reflected on the streets, the store fronts, the main streets of the city. What can be named as the core characteristic of a this town? When asked why (?) one friend said "it is problems with the government". The government? Is this a state owned cemetery? I said to him, "this is your town, your cemetery, your streets" - A Brazilian will not argue straight a out with me - probably another example of our language barriers and not part of being polite - so he just went silent....
This is why I have focused my eye on the beauty - thinking about these questions just drive me crazy. Please go to the photo album and enjoy the all the photos - including the one of the Cemetery John the Baptist, Nova Friburgo, Brasil