In deathly devout Haiti, the spirits go unserved

Saturday, February 6, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The cemetery reeks of death. Dozens of tombstones are overturned. Crypts have been upended, inverted and emptied of their macabre contents. It would look centuries old were it not for the bright blue paint bouncing sunlight off the broken gravestones.

The overpowering smell comes from the far side of the labyrinthine cemetery, where a plot near the street has been excavated and filled with corpses. More than 2,000 of them.

The plan is to pave over the spot and turn it into a memorial to those killed in the earthquake. But for now it’s simply a mass grave, holding corpses covered with pale dirt and concrete dust.

“Next Ghede will be wild,” says voodoo priest Menahem Laurent, referring to a holiday in early November similar to the Latin American Day of the Dead. “There will be so many ghosts.”

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