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Ghoul Teacher

by sanmigueltimes
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During a recent dance class in Escobedo (about 30 minutes south of San Miguel) I happened to learn the tiny town has a cemetery.  I had assumed the former residents of Escobedo now resided in the nearby Celaya’s rather large, if ill kept, cemetery.

I was wrong.  The funerary business has been booming in Escobedo for some time now in unexpected ways.

On the way to class last week I asked my co-teachers, Cris and Martin, if they could drop me by the cemetery and I’d be a bit late for class.  After years of teaching and traveling together, they are good sports and didn’t question me.  However, they told the students why I would be late and each and every one of them questioned me endlessly upon my return on why I went to the cemetery.

Basically, I’ve always like cemeteries and long wished to live by one.  Dead neighbors are so much easier to get along with then the live ones.  Plus I enjoy the art and landscaping laced among mini-biographies of the folks resting there.  In addition it is an endless source of cool names.  I wasn’t surprised to learn that Agatha Christie went to cemeteries to find names for her murder mystery characters.

Photo: Joseph Toone
Photo: Joseph Toone
Photo: Joseph Toone


I was kind of surprised to learn that for Mexicans on vacation that sleeping at cemeteries was once an economical way to avoid hotel expenses.  Again, it wasn’t zombies that concerned me with that plan as much as vandals.

Cemeteries were where I learned to drive.  With flat to the earth headstones, there was nothing for me to run over.  I used the same location for my kids with their big wheels and bikes.  While they pedaled about I learned all about former residents of our town.

Every society leaves their mark on history based on how they treat their dead.  Think of the Egyptians and their pyramids and Esocobeo is no exception.  It was, bar none, the most haphazard cemetery I’d ever been to in Mexico.  There were literally no walking paths and one has to hop tombstone to tombstone to make it around the cemetery, not an inch of real estate is wasted.

That may explain why thrice the walls of the cemetery have been removed and the cemetery expanded.  If you plan on living a bit more but want to have space for your remains, Escobedo is the place to go.

Photo: Joseph Toone
Photo: Joseph Toone
Photo: Joseph Toone
Photo: Joseph Toone

Art in Escobedo’s cemetery is also intriguing.  Naturally there are a lot of Guadalupes but here she is in full force alongside the sacred heart of Jesus.  Yet both of these images pale in comparison to the number of trumpet bearing angels.

The angel shushing the crowd while holding on to her trumpet is my favorite funerary art in our San Miguel cemetery.  The irony of requesting quiet so she can blow her horn is not lost on me.  However, this image, I thought, was unique to San Miguel.

Nope, she’s all over Escobedo!

But my visual interest was drawn to the three foot replica model of Escobedo’s church on a tomb.  Right down to having folks placed inside, the tomb’s model was a dead on replica (pun intended).

My Escobedo students were aghast I went to their cemetery (in my defense after 3 years of volunteer teaching in Escobedo I know there are no museums, hotels, restaurants or shops to capture my interest).  I think they think I’m a vampire, for which I do have the proper coloring!  Honestly, I simply had a good time and was impressed by both the art and the town’s economical use of real estate and expansion efforts.

Joseph Toone


Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series.  All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays.  Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA.  Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkingTours.com, and JosephTooneTours.com.


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