Visits with the dead: Are they a morbid fascination or an intoxicating historical voyage?
We like to think the latter…and in our travels, we have learned a lot about history while visiting some interesting places of death.
It is difficult to pick our favorite places of death, but here are our top 3 (in no particular order):
1. The Grave of Yassir Arafat, Ramallah, Palestinian Territories.
Yassir Arafat was the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization from 1969 until his death in November 2004. His legacy is one of much controversy, not only for his political associations early in his career, but also for the wealth he amassed while his Palestinian people lived in poverty-like conditions. Later in his career, Arafat was honoured with a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in peace negotiations.
On the road to Yassir Arafat’s grave
What made this visit most interesting was the time that it took to travel to Ramallah from Jerusalem. Only 24 km apart, what should have been a half hour trip on a small mini-bus ended up taking over 2.5 hours because our mini-bus kept on getting stopped and redirected at road blocks by the Israelis.
What makes the visit to Yassir Arafat’s grave even more interesting now is that his body was exhumed and samples were taken in November 2012 to determine if he was poisoned, as his cause of death remains a mystery.
Arafat’s grave, adorned by many flowers and guarded continuously by armed soldiers
Disclaimer: Understanding the sensitivity of the situation of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, we wanted to note that we have many friends, both Israelis and Palestinians, so this post is by no means a political statement!
2. Tomb of Eva Peron (Evita), Buenos Aires, Argentina
Eva Peron was the first lady of Argentina from 1946 until she passed away in 1952. She is well-remembered for her charitable work, her feminist stance, and her fight for labour rights, and she became a popular voice of the people.
When she died, her body was embalmed. When her husband, the President, was overthrown in a military coup, her body disappeared and reportedly spent around 20 years on the road in various locations in Europe, before it was returned back to Argentina in the early 1970s and laid to rest at the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.
The crypt of Evita
The body of Evita lies 5 meters below the ground and is apparently in a crypt that has been built like a military bunker to prevent her body from being stolen again.
Recoleta Cemetery has many beautiful crypts, and people continue to be ‘buried’ in these crypts as evidenced by new coffins that have been added to the crypts and are visible when you walk around the grounds.
3. Divers Graveyard, Dahab, Egypt
The Blue Hole in Dahab, Egypt is one of the most amazing places for divers to view aquatic life in the Red Sea. It is also notorious for being one of the most dangerous dive sites in the world. The cave (“hole”) is around 130 metres deep, and at 56 meters there is an arch that runs out to the sea. Many divers attempting to find the arch on their descent experience nitrogen narcosis, a poisoning that causes an intoxication that has led to many deaths due to confusion and loss of consciousness. By some estimates, over 100 divers have died here.
A sign indicating the entrance to the Blue Hole. Ironically it reads “easy entry”…
Above-ground graves memorializing those who divers who have perished in the Blue Hole