In Guatemala City, there is no place for dead. The crypts are built vertically and stacked upon each other.
And if you don’t pay your rent… Well, you better pay the rent!
La Verbena Cemetery in Guatemala City is an amazing city of the dead, where relatives of the deceased party, socialize, and engage in all sorts of activities not normally associated with graveyards.
This hustle and bustle has even made it profitable for peddlers to set up shop between the rows of napping corpses. Also local bands hang about, offering to play sets of traditional, Guatemalan music for friends and relatives to dance in between the stacks of graves all night long:
So where’s the terror here?
It’s all in the rental agreement. Families of the deceased must pay “rent” to ensure their loved ones remain undisturbed within their vertical tombs. The first six years are free, but after that, they are charged $24 for every successive four years. This is a lot of money for most of the folk burying their loved ones in these crypts.
Those unable to pay see their relative’s graves marked with red paint. The bodies are removed, bagged, and — if they aren’t claimed by their relatives — unceremoniously dumped, en masse, into large communal graves. It is not a rare occasion. It happens every single morning:
These screaming mummies in the process of eviction are present at any random corner of this abominable giant graveyard town.
And of course, this constant recycling of human material, as well as the fact that the cemetery adjoins the city dump, ensures tasty meals for the countless vultures that treat the cemetery like a fertile scavenging ground. Here they are lining every wall, staring at you, wondering if maybe you’re on the menu next.
Since 2011, scientists are digging the giant mass grave at La Verbena. Forensic scientists hope finding people buried there who were executed during the country’s 36-year civil war which ended in 1996:
So dance, you poor people. Dance to prove you are not yet among the dead!