Ashes to Ashes

December 4, 2014 at 9:02 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

As I mentioned in my previous post, while I was in Louisiana for Thanksgiving I went to New Orleans for a day with my cousins. We wanted to branch out and do something we’d never done there before and when we came across the carriage tours of the French Quarter we figured that would work. Then we saw one of the carriages also went through the historic St. Louis Cemetery and we got REALLY excited. Our guide was thoroughly entertaining and knew his stuff so we got a history lesson during the hour-long ride, which absolutely thrilled the nerd in all of us. We passed by some landmarks and old, important buildings on our way to the cemetery, which is a place I’ve been wanting to explore for years. In case you didn’t know, the cemeteries in New Orleans are all above ground because the water level is so high that they can’t dig six feet underground without eventually having coffins and bodies float back to the surface. Yes, they learned this the hard way. They’re also designed that way due to a mixture of French and Spanish tradition but the whole water-table thing is much cooler to think about. So all of their cemeteries have casket-shaped vaults to hold their dead. Silly me, I had assumed that there was one body per structure but the tour taught me otherwise. Apparently these large stone caskets work like a kiln in the hot Louisiana summers and will turn any body and casket combination to complete dust within a year. So there’s a law that states you can’t open the vault for a year and a day after a body is placed inside but once that time has passed, it’s open season to put more dead inside. They basically scoop up all the ashes left from the previous inhabitant and place them in a bag, then shove it to the back and put in a new coffin. These vaults are typically family-owned so you wouldn’t be spending eternity with a bunch of strangers but you would be in awfully close quarters with everyone else. To be honest, I think this is fascinating and very economical way to save space and honor the dead.

RIP Nick

RIP Nick

One of the first tombs we saw had family members from the early 1800’s mixed with someone from 2011 so people are still being buried there to this day. In fact, Nicholas Cage recently purchased himself a tomb here and his is shaped like a pyramid. Why? Because he’s Nicholas Cage. We got to see that in addition to the place there they filmed the acid scene in Easy Rider, plus we visited the family tomb where Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau is reportedly buried. There’s a lot of history and even quit a few hauntings associated with this cemetery and it was pretty much the coolest thing we did that entire day. And yes, that includes the food and booze on Bourbon St. All of the tombs sink a tiny bit each year and there are some that only have the very tops visible as they’ve basically sunk so far into the ground that they’ve almost disappeared. Seeing all of the ruins amongst those still being opened today was pretty surreal and if the plots weren’t so stupidly expensive I would consider spending eternity there as well. Of course, I guess if I somehow find and marry Nicholas Cage I’d still have a shot at this but then I’d have to spend time finding and marrying Nicholas Cage. Pass. But at least I know where to find him in the afterlife!

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