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A Man Died in a Small Town: Colombia

A man died in a small town. He was the mayor years ago, and his son is the mayor now. What looked like the entire town showed up to the church in the square. Loudspeakers broadcast the words of the priest and the man’s family, friends, and loved ones. They talked of his accomplishments. They talked of him as a father, as a friend, as a fellow citizen. For several hours the people in the town stood and sat in the sun and in the shade to listen; men and women, young and old, together and alone.

Then the people followed his casket out into the plaza and down the street toward the cemetery. They followed on foot and they followed in trucks, singing and honking as they went. At the cemetery the town reassembled to see the man placed in his grave and shake hands with his bereaved family. It felt like a burial from long ago, when humans lived in communities connected through life and death.

Flowers adorn a hearse as it arrives near the cemetery; a band plays nearby | Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia | November 23, 2023
The old man talks on the phone; he tells them he is in the plaza listening to the eulogy | Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia | November 23, 2023
A child sleeps in her mother’s lap on the bed of a truck in the plaza as friends and neighbors gather | Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia | November 23, 2023
One man stands apart from the crowd in the sun; he does not move until the sermons end | Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia | November 23, 2023
Several large trucks are parked in the plaza; they will follow the hearse and honk the loudest | Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia | November 23, 2023
A band marches and plays as the hearse drives toward the cemetery; the people follow | Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia | November 23, 2023
Half way through the eulogies a flock of birds flies across the plaza; everyone looks | Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia | November 23, 2023
Rain falls and a town gathers round the tomb as the family speaks | Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia | November 23, 2023
The old man who was on the phone says his goodbyes and leaves | Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia | November 23, 2023
The town departs and a grave stands alone | Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia | November 23, 2023
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Daniel Durazo

Born in Arizona, I grew up in the city of Tijuana. Besides the United States and Mexico, I have lived in Japan, Honduras, Oman,… More »

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