At this time next month we will be back in Washington, D.C. and I am filled with eager anticipation. I cannot make the days go fast enough.
Throw Out the Outliers
But, in the meantime, I’m going to tell you a tale about a quirky little cemetery we found in El Paso, Texas. Well, Abi found it. On TripAdvisor, I believe. If you find yourself somewhere and you don’t know where to go or what to see, check TripAdvisor. Throw out the outlier reviews and go with the mainstream. It helps!
El Paso, One of the Safest
We left Las Cruces, NM heading east, passing through El Paso. I have to say I didn’t see anything that would make me want to stop but research will tell you that even though it’s border neighbor, Juárez, Mexico is one of the most violent cities, El Paso is one of the safest cities, in the USA, in which to live, partly because just about every government agency is based in El Paso. Abi looks up these tidbits while we’re traveling – ya gotta love the internet.
“El Paso has a strong federal and military presence. William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Biggs Army Airfield and Fort Bliss call the city home. Fort Bliss is one of the largest military complexes of the United States Army and the largest training area in the United States. Also headquartered in El Paso are the DEA domestic field division 7, El Paso Intelligence Center, Joint Task Force North, U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector and U.S. Border Patrol Special Operations Group (SOG).” – Wikipedia
A Quirky Little Cemetery
But I digress. We pulled into the cemetery entrance on a very cold – bitterly cold – December day. The size of it was overwhelming and although we found the brochure and map, we didn’t really know what we were looking for. As luck would have it, we happened upon a security guard keeping warm in her car. Her name was Maria and she could not have been more friendly or more willing to show us around the cemetery.
What I loved about Maria, was her genuine concern for the history and upkeep of the cemetery, and for life in El Paso. She warned us – more than once – not to cross the border into Juárez. Maria told us how vastly different Juárez is now, compared to past years. She used to travel across the border once a week to do her grocery shopping, telling us that she could have a big breakfast for $3.00 and do her shopping for far less money than what it would cost her to shop in El Paso.
She beamed when she talked about those memories. Her children had been asking her to stop shopping in Juárez and she kept reassuring them she was safe until one day she was in her car and a truck pulled up alongside of her. The next thing she knew someone shot repeatedly at the truck and killed the passengers. She’s never been back. Just listening to her we could feel the sense of loss she felt for that part of her life. It’s funny how someone can come into your life like that, for such a brief moment in time, but I’ll remember Maria.
Closing in on 200 years of history, the Concordia Cemetery – also known as El Paso’s Boot Hill – is a step back in time. By the 1890’s sections of the cemetery grounds had been purchased by different groups and then designated as the Catholic, Masonic, Jewish, Black, Chinese, Military, Jesuit, Mormon, city or county cemetery, so one really does need a road map to navigate. Of course the saddest area was the children’s section of graves.
Maybe one of the most notable buried at Concordia is the infamous gunfighter John Wesley Hardin.
I’m not sure we’ll ever again – willingly – drive across western Texas because it is painfully long and desolate but I am grateful Abi found this little gem of a place in history. And I’m even more grateful for meeting Maria and listening to her story.
If you find yourself in El Paso, Texas, be sure to make your way to the Concordia Cemetery. It’s definitely not a tourist destination, but it sure was interesting to take a walk through history and those who came before us.
Looks pretty amazing Patti:) Being in a remote place probably made it even more mystical! I love cemeteries myself so peaceful and so many stories. We visited Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aries with Makai and it was exquisite! It was kismet you met Maria on such a desolate day to learn a bit about the 6000 inhabitants (goosebumps).
Tracey recently posted…Leaving Home
It was Tracey, very moving to see the history of so many who came before and to meet, Maria, she was so lovely.
Aren’t cemeteries fascinating places to visit? We, too, have enjoyed exploring them on trios to various places.
Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Kailua is King of Hawaiian Chocolate
They are fascinating, indeed, because there are so many stories.
It looks like a fascinating cemetery. I am so sad about the changes to Juarez. I remember going across the border with my mom and sister to explore Juarez and eating some very delicious cheap food. Juarez was so different than just boring old Los Alamos.
Kerri recently posted…Getting Your Teeth Cleaned in Bangkok Thailand
We’ve never been to Juarez and had no plans to do so as we were just passing through El Paso, but from what Maria shared with us, it used to be a good place to live/work/play, but sadly that is no longer the case. It’s nice that you have good memories!
Old cemetaries are fascinating. One memorable one was in Cornwall, England. Inscribed on an ancient headstone was: “Physician acted wrong.” (in olde English, of course). Wonder if the doc left town!
Whoa! That’s quite the inscription. Wouldn’t you love to know the story behind that?!
We love cemeteries too. There’s an Anglican church in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Plus a British cemetery which we really enjoyed visiting.
Gran Canaria Local recently posted…Lago Taurito
I must admit I didn’t know where Gran Canaria is so I did a quick Google search, looks to be lovely. My husband has spent time in Spain but I haven’t made it yet. Although we hope to walk the Camino in September 2015. Thanks for reading!
I love cemeteries, not so much for death or morbid but because they are so unique and full of tradition. One day I will sort our my photo collection and write about them. We have seen some fascinating places all over Europe.
Heidi (@WagonersAbroad) recently posted…Our Budget and Actual Spend (January – March 2014) – 3 Months Living In Spain
I know some may think it is morbid, but we don’t. We see it as visiting a page of history and paying respect to those who came before us. I can imagine some of the ones in Europe are really something to see.
What a fascinating place. It gives an intriguing insight into the people and culture of this area and it’s rather violent times. Our English cemeteries don’t have such eleborate graves. The cradle is very poignant.
Zoë Dawes recently posted…3 luxury places to stay in Wales and England with a quirky twist of quality
Yes, Zoe, the cradle was really something and it was clear that someone still tends to the grave site because the cradle is very clean. Perhaps that’s part of why some believe they’ve seen it rocking.
I love old cemeteries, and it was great to get the insider’s view of this one in El Paso. The white crib tore at my heart, though.
We once lived in a 250+ historic come in Canterbury, NH that had an old war cemetery on our property (although it was owned and maintained by the town). The old stones were very interesting, although they did creep out my kids at times!
Patti Morrow recently posted…22 Fun Things to Try on Carnivalâs Southern Caribbean Cruise
While traveling across the USA we stayed in Franklin, TN and visited a plantation that had a civil war cemetery on the grounds, really quite moving as most of the small stones did not have names, only regiment names. I think I might have to side with your kids because as much as I find it interesting to visit cemeteries, I’m not sure I’d want one in my back yard! 😉
I enjoy visiting cemeteries when I travel. Thanks for sharing this interesting story.
Carole Terwilliger Meyers recently posted…Great Sleeps: Inn at the Park, Cape May, New Jersey
Thanks for reading, Carole.
We LOVE cemeteries and have visited them across the US (including the ghost towns of Montana) and Mexico and Central America. I love being able to see the history (epidemics, segregated graves by race and religion) and read the epitaphs. Call me morbid but I enjoyed this post and your photos.
Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted…The Easter Pilgrims Of Popoyuapa
Well, if I call you morbid than I’d have to attach the label to ourselves as well!
there’s some pretty neat people out there in the world
There are indeed!
It’s great getting an inside story from someone who knows, I always try to approach someone at a landmark and always get some cool insight….very different and eerie cemetery.
Agreed, Noel. If I can find someone in the know, I always ask questions and I find they are always willing to share information.