Vacation on the Amazon River

My dear friend Jeff is on a mission to travel to all the ends of the earth. Ten years ago, he fulfilled a lifelong dream and took a cruise down the Amazon.  He sent me these photos from the cemetery along the way.  With his permission, I share them with you.

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From Jeff’s note:

First, a context photo, since I do not know much about this graveyard.
We stopped here to go for a swim on a sandbar on an island in the middle of the Rio Negro (the branch of the Amazon we were on).  The water was warm and we just spent a few hours standing up to our necks in the water that was cooler than the air.  If you look, you can see that people are drinking beer while they stand, with our residence floating in the background.
This graveyard is at the high point of this sand bar.  On wet winters, I suspect that this graveyard would be under 1 meter of water. Typically, it seems to be right at the high water mark of the river.  When we got there, the crosses had all been freshly repainted.  The roller was still sitting there with paint on it.  Talk about a graveyard with a view!

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Loren again:  Someday we’ll be able to travel again. In the meantime, you can check out Jeff’s other exotic adventures on Cemetery Travel:

You can see Jeff’s photos of his trip to Cuba here.

See his photos of the graveyards of Croatia and Bosnia here.

His pictures of Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh are here.

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My New Cemetery Project

I am starting to work on a new cemetery book, sort of a sequel to 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die. This one will focus on lesser-known, even more beautiful cemeteries.

Here’s the pile of research books I’m starting with:

So my question to you is this: do you have a beautiful cemetery I should consider for this book? I would love to get suggestions for places, especially outside the US.

You can drop a comment below or use the contact form above.

Thanks so much for your help!

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Respectable Burial review

Respectable Burial: Montreal's Mount Royal CemeteryRespectable Burial: Montreal’s Mount Royal Cemetery by Brian J. Young

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This may be the most boring cemetery book I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot). I bought a shrink-wrapped copy without paging through it because I’m fascinated by the cemeteries of Montreal, but this book turns out to have few photos of the monuments in Mount Royal Cemetery — and even fewer color views of the cemetery itself. That’s one strike against it.

Rather than illuminating the history of Montreal through the people buried in Mount Royal Cemetery, this book focuses on the business of running the cemetery, including minutiae on cemetery board discussions on how to police the behavior of visitors. There is a whole lot of detail about how burying the poor was seen as a Protestant duty and the rules the cemetery board consequently put in place to punish families who needed assistance burying their dead. Actually I found that quite interesting, although it went on and on.

Often, the most interesting stories in the book appeared in the photo captions, which described some of the controversial figures buried in Mount Royal. It made me wish I was reading a book comprised on the captions, instead of the main text.

To be honest, all things being equal, I prefer to explore Catholic cemeteries over Protestant ones, because Catholic cemeteries tend to have more sculpture and more detailed epitaphs and I can get a better sense of the people buried in them. Perhaps the same can be said for books about Catholic cemeteries vs. Protestant ones?

If you’d like to complete your cemetery book collection, you can buy a copy of Respectable Burial from Amazon: https://amzn.to/38wTMiW

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

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The Cemetery Traveler

The Cemetery Traveler: Selections from the blog by Ed SnyderThe Cemetery Traveler: Selections from the blog by Ed Snyder by Ed Snyder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ed Snyder was blogging about visiting cemeteries before the idea even occurred to me. In fact, I wrote to ask his permission to call my blog Cemetery Travel. He was kind enough to say yes, because getting people to visit cemeteries is important to him.

All of Ed’s quirky personality comes through in this fun little book: his sense of humor, his love of life, his meticulous photographer’s eye, his passion for protecting and restoring cemeteries. He’s a storyteller, not a writer, so the text is straightforward and occasionally less polished than it might be, but it’s easy to get caught up in his wonder at the wildlife inhabiting a cemetery or his anger at how a cemetery has been treated. Just as soon as you think you’ve gotten Ed figured out, he’s gently brushing off the invitation of a prostitute outside the cemetery gates or dodging a pack of feral pitbulls in Mount Moriah or stopping by the grave of Nancy Spungen to tell the sad tale of Sid Vicious’s illegal burial there. He sounds like he would be a great person to poke around a cemetery with.

I was amused to see Ed’s experience visiting the grave of Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Florence was so similar to my own. Both of us arrived when the English Cemetery was closed. Both of us met Julia Bolton Holloway, the cemetery’s caretaker, who welcomed us into the graveyard, let us photograph to our hearts’ desire, and showed us her little museum. I was glad to see that nothing had changed between my visit in 1999 and his in 2010.

I’m envious that Ed got to hang out in Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill while a zombie movie was being filmed. I wish he’d been able to go out on the boat that scatters ashes in Long Beach, but the interview he did with the boat’s captain is fascinating. I’m glad that he researched the destruction of Philadelphia’s Monument Cemetery, which was demolished to build a parking lot — and essay that is worth the price of the book.

The only reason I took one star off the book is that I wish it had more of Ed’s beautiful black and white photos. I’m going to have to buy a copy of his Stone Angels book, too.

All in all, I’m grateful that Ed pulled together his favorite blog pieces to create this book. I hope it will bring more attention to The Cemetery Traveler and his work bringing Mount Moriah Cemetery back from the edge of dissolution.

I had the luck to publish one of the essays from the book on Cemetery Travel.  You can read “The Allure of the Abandoned Cemetery” here: https://cemeterytravel.com/2015/11/20/deaths-garden-the-allure-of-the-abandoned-cemetery/

You can buy your own copy of the book in paperback on Amazon: https://amzn.to/34tPVS3

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

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My New Favorite Cemetery Book

Cemeteries of Illinois: A Field Guide to Markers, Monuments, and MotifsCemeteries of Illinois: A Field Guide to Markers, Monuments, and Motifs by Hal Hassen and Dawn Cobb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my new favorite cemetery book. It covers the history of burial in the state of Illinois from the Mound Builders to the modern lawn cemeteries. Along the way, it defines the different materials for marking graves, explores gravestone iconography, and is generally to cemeteries what the Audubon Guide is to birds. This is a perfect beginner book, even if you don’t live in Illinois. It would be a perfect textbook for a cemetery history class.

The only issue one might have with the book is that while it contains almost 300 full-color photos, they are purely snapshots, not artwork. I didn’t find that a drawback, but then I have a couple hundred cemetery books, many of them focusing on the artistry of cemetery landscaping and sculpture. This book serves as a nice companion to those.

I bought it on the basis of a glowing review in the Association for Gravestone Studies Quarterly. It did not disappoint.

You can pick up a copy to entice someone else into loving cemeteries from Amazon: https://amzn.to/337LdaY. Check out the “also bought” links at the bottom of that page. I was surprised to discover that you can get a deal on 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die!

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

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