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Spending a night with the dead in Peru's capital

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 11, 2012 at 8:51 am •  Published: December 11, 2012
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"Women wash the child's statue with shampoo and brushes. They bring flowers, gifts, notes. They perfume it and give thanks," says Chaparro.

The cemetery, created by one of the last Spanish viceroys, was established outside the walls of old Lima.

It has a special wall of niches for the obese, another wall for people who have taken their own lives. In one niche, a poet was buried feet first, at his own request.

The press director for the cemetery, Yvette Sierra, says more than 10,000 people have taken the tour in the decade it's been offered. It is only offered in Spanish.

There are no more burials anymore, unless a family owns a mausoleum.

The relative peace of the place can make it eerie, but also contemplative.

"The fear you can feel at the start goes away," said visitor Rafael Vargas, "and you are left thinking, philosophizing about what your life will be after death."

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If You Go...

The tour is offered twice a week, Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 6 p.m. It costs $8 for adults and is only offered in Spanish. Buses for the tours depart from the offices of the Beneficencia de Lima in downtown Lima at Jiron Puno 228, five blocks from the Plaza de Armas, the capital's central square.

The district around the cemetery, Barrios Altos, is among Lima's least safe. It is not recommended to arrive there independently.

Telephone +51-1-427-3798. Ticket sales: Mon-Fri 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Jiron Puno 228. On the Net (In Spanish): http://www.sblm.gob.pe/