"Tell the taxi driver Pantheon General," Jane said, pronouncing the name of the cemetery in Spanish. "Tell him tercero porta." She warned us that he might not be able to drive up to the third entrance, so get out wherever he left us and find the third entrance on foot. Luckily, I went in the same taxi with Jane or I would have been arguing in my almost nonexistent Spanish with a taxi driver. No, no, not the carnival, general. Pantheon general. All of the entrances to the huge cemetery were masked by a blocks-long carnival. Tilt-a-Whirl, shooting galleries, go fish, every junk food concession imaginable. For blocks. And blocks. The Pantheon General was the urban equivalent of our previous night's visit to a village cemetery. Only this night we went to the party at Jane's husband's grave. There was beer and mescal, tamales, a hired trio if musicians and scores of friends come to pay their respects.
Oh, by the way, there was a base player.
The next day we went back to the Pantheon General to tidy up, and to clean (there are water spigots every 30 feet or so) and adorn the graves of friends of Jane's as well as the grave of an unknown gringa adopted years ago by Jane and her husband.
The simple mounds of dirt are few and far between at Pantheon General. The graves are, at a minimum covered with stone or or tile. Some are shielded from the sun by roofs or canopies; others have small enclosures complete with benches. There are flowers everywhere. It's hard to fathom that Mexico can grow enough flowers to decorate the graves of all the dearly departed. As we were leaving, people continued to stream in, arms laden.