On my to-do list today was to go to the post office and offload perhaps a kilo of papers and brochures collected over the past 10 days; send them back home and not need to carry them to Antarctica. When I Googled the opening hours of the post office, I found it was a national holiday today and all government buildings do not open (I am a bit dirty on the hotel reception for not informing me; this is a special day for Uruguayans and some other countries as well – surely tourists would have an interest?). The banks don’t open either – thank god I am right for money as in cash and cards.
From Google I know today is All Soul’s Day. Chantale has gone out of her way in Mexico to be part of this, and the Dia de Muertos is one of South America’s and Uruguay’s biggest celebrations. Families visit the graveyards to pay respect to loved ones, but in typical Latino fashion, the festival is vibrant and colourful, with skeleton-themed paraphernalia adorning the streets. All Saint’s Day, which remembers the patron saints and dead infants, is celebrated on November 1, with the Day of the Dead following on the next day, a national holiday. All Souls’ Day is a celebration and always falls on November 2; is preceded by Halloween on October 31 and All Saints’ Day on November 1. Together, these three days of remembrance of the dead, form the triduum (a religious observance lasting three days) of Hallowtide or All hallow tide. Known liturgically as the “Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed”, All Souls’ Day is often seen as a continuation and extension of the All Saints’ Day celebrations conducted the day before. While All Saints’ Day is dedicated to those who are in heaven, All Souls’ Day is a day of prayer for those who have died but have not yet reached heaven. The custom of placing lit candles on the graves of deceased relatives on All Saints’ Day often continues into All Souls’ Day.
On my list today for a visit – perhaps you guessed it – was the main central cemetery seeking peace and quiet (I am not made for big cities and I have many weeks’ worth of big metropolitan areas yet to go so I have to hold it together). Hummpppphhh. I doubt there will be any chance of the silence and space I crave (yesterday’s walk along the river edge did replenish me somewhat, as did looking out over the river towards the sea and infinity from the top of the tall building in the centre of downtown). But maybe there will be interesting and even entertaining events or practices happening across the cemetery, if not the streets.
I asked reception what else I didn’t know that might be relevant or interesting. Their response was ‘I don’t know what you have seen or done so I don’t know what to tell you’. However, not to be put off I kept asking questions and, through continuing the conversation, I was alerted to a Ballet performance tonight at the new theatre Auditorio which is an easy walking distance from here – perhaps 2-3 kms. The title translates as/or more to the point means the ‘Don Quixote of the Rio de la Plata’ which is the river of ‘silver’ that separates Uruguay from Argentina. This performance starts at 8pm. I am just beginning to get a regular amount of sleep albeit at rather odd hours and still profoundly tired although not as much as a few days ago; therefore I have decided not to go to tonight’s performance. Nevertheless, I understand this is a very clever and special performance, that dancers who are internationally celebrated are/have been involved, and that Emma may be disappointed that I have nothing to tell.