San Blas, Nayarit - About thirty five miles North of Los Mochis there is a beautiful little cemetery out in the middle of nowhere. It is miles from any town, the nearest being Chihuahuita about three miles North. It sits at the base of a hill that juts up out of the desert like a giant thumb.
On the side of it, facing the cemetery are the words "Jesuchristo es el Camino" (Jesus Christ is the Way) made of rocks painted white. I figure the hill is the reason the cemetery is situated there. It is like a large monument itself. Every time I go this route from Oregon to San Blas or vise-versa, I make it a point to stop there.
In May of 2016 I was on my way up to Oregon and pulled into the cemetery about 3:30 pm. It was a beautiful day, hot, but breezy. I walked around a bit then rode into Chihuahuita and got a can of Tecate and came back to the cemetery.
I have always loved Mexican cemeteries... from the first time I saw one. Mexican cemeteries are like Mexican life... colorful, joyous, bright, unabashed, no-holds-barred. One thing that had been on my "bucket list" for about 20 years was "Spend the night in a Mexican cemetery."
I spent an hour or so walking around and reading the names and inscriptions on the graves, finished my Tecate and walked back to my bike. It was about 5:00 pm by then. I looked at my map... the next town that would have a motel was about 90 miles away (or so I thought then, but I was wrong). It was then that I decided to stay the night there. After all, I had been saying for years that I was going to do this... why not now?
So I made another run into Chihuahuita, got some food and water (and two more cans of beer), came back to the cemetery and started looking for a good place to spend the night. I found a family crypt that was on the edge of the cemetery right up against the hill. It was open on three sides, had a roof over the top and was inside a gate.
Two of the three occupants were a mother and daughter, ages 19 and 36. They had both died on the same day. I thought it must have been a car accident. The other grave was the father and husband of the two women. He was only 55 when he died. He had died a little over a year before them. How sad, I thought... in a year and a week, this family lost so much.
As is also typical of Mexican cemeteries, there were pictures of the mother and daughter on the wall above their graves. They both looked kind of sad to me, as if they knew when the pictures were taken that they didn't have long. They were both named Anna. Since they had died together, their graves were joined together, making the equivalent of a Queen-sized concrete mattress. I had no blankets or padding, but took all the clothes out of my pack and tried to make as comfortable a bed as I could. I didn't really know if it would help, but I sprayed WD-40 around the graves to deter any spiders or scorpions that might wander by.
I watched the sun go down and the "Jesuschristo Es El Camino" on the hillside turn orange, then pink, then violet, then purple. The stars came out... there was only a sliver of moon that night, and I was awestruck. There were no houses or anything for miles, just me and the departed.
Many of the graves were adorned with wreaths made of artificial flowers covered with cellophane to keep the dust off. When the wind would pick up, the whole graveyard would start to make this rustling noise, almost like rapids in a river or fire, the intensity rising and falling with the wind. Around 10 the wind died down and a relative quiet replaced the rustling cellophane. I was uncomfortable as hell... my ragtag "bed" was pretty uncomfortable, but managed to doze off.
Then, exactly at midnight, it happened.
A song started playing. And I don't mean I thought I may have heard a song or a tune in the wind, this was a full blown song. Accordions, tuba, trumpets and vocals... it sounded like a car radio. My blood froze... someone else was out here, with me, in this remote cemetery! Who in their right mind (other than me) would be out here now? They had to be up to no good, I was sure of that. I hoped to God that they didn't know that I was there and that they didn't drive along the edge of the cemetery where I was. Maybe they were dumping a body... what better place?
Then, as suddenly as it had started, the song ended. Silence. I was peering around the wall of the crypt looking and listening for voices, car doors, anything... but all I heard was cellophane rustling which annoyed me because I couldn't hear anything else. There could be five heavily armed body-dumpers walking right towards me and I wouldn't be able to hear them! Shit!
I got my knife out and laid back down, but couldn't relax. I remembered that I had some wire in my tool kit, so I got it out and tied the gate shut. It could be cut or broken easily but would give me a heads-up if someone tried to just walk in. I knew that I wouldn't be able to sleep otherwise. I just hoped that whoever was there with the radio was passing through and would not know I was there.
Incredibly, I managed to drift off to sleep.
Then it happened again. The same song. My Spanish was not good enough to have remembered the words, but I remembered the music. It was the same song. Again I jumped up and looked in the direction of the music. Again I saw nothing and as before, the song ended. I had only gotten maybe a half hour of sleep, but I wasn't sleeping now. The sun would be coming up soon as it was a little after 4 am.
I cleaned up the area and looked up again at the hillside. I was tired but happy. After about twenty years of saying that I was going to spend the night in a Mexican cemetery, I had done it.
And what of the song? My only guess was that a car had pulled in during the night with it's lights off, but why? And why would I have only heard that one song? Before I pulled out I took a picture of the hillside with my motorcycle in the foreground. With some satisfaction I realized that my "bucket list" was not only shorter but almost empty!
I didn't travel very far that day. I got a motel room on the North side of Guaymas, about 100 miles down the road. Later that evening I struck up a conversation with the manager. I told him about the previous night and the bizarre situation with the song. He laughed and told me "Oh Mexicans do that kind of stuff all the time! It was probably a MP3 player with a timer so that it would play every so often. It was probably the guy's favorite song, or maybe he was the guy singing."
I told him that I had looked but never saw anything, to which he replied "Well it was hidden inside a vase or something because they don't want to lose it. Of course it would be hidden or maybe inside a locked crypt." At that point it became so very obvious to me that he was right. That explained everything... the midnight and 4 am serenades & why I heard nothing else... there was nothing else.
I had to laugh as I remembered peering into the darkness, knife in hand, wondering what kind of lunatic would be in a cemetery in the middle of the night. Other than me, of course.Related article: Mexico Motorcycle Adventure: Saved by Jesus in Sinaloa