Todos Los Santos

Nun costume in shop window on All Saints Day In Madrid
Carousel near the Royal Palace in Madrid

All Saints day was always a day off when we were growing up. A holy day of obligation, mass was a must. It is a big holiday in Spain. It was loud as hell outside our hotel room at four in the morning when the clubs let out. All the shops were closed today but there was a book fair in the Plaza Mayor. Lots of weighty material, literature, poetry and books on Machado, Lorca, Buñuel and the Spanish heroes, modern day saints, but all in Spanish.

We walked over to the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo for a show of Ramón Gómez’s work. A Dada artist, he was forced to flee Franco’s Spain and spent the rest of his life in Argentina. The Museo reconstructed his apartment, reproduced his witty drawings and showed some of his crazy movies.

We asked the gallery workers if there were any festivities in connection with All Saints/All Souls days and they suggested we take a bus to Cementerio de la Ermita de San Isidro where people decorate the graves of their loved ones. Peggi asked how far it was if we walked and they said maybe an hour. She told them we just walked the Camino, we can do that.

The cemetery was alive with people, fresh flowers and candles. The grave stones were covered in crosses and crucifixes and the mausoleums are surrounded by statues. We stumbled onto the tomb of La Argentinita, the famous flamenco dancer, who was forced to leave Spain when Franco took over. In 1943 she presented the flamenco troupe El Café de Chinitas at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, with her own choreography, text by Lorca and scenery by Salvador Dalí.

One grave had a beautiful quote from Aurelio Muñoz Garcia on it. “Nacemos sin traer nada, morimos sin llevar nada, consciente de ello jamás ambicioné ser dueño de nada.” We are born with nothing, we die without taking anything with us, conscious of that, we never strive to be owner of anything.

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