A few weeks later, the city hall announced that the small hill where the cemetery was located was to be 'flattened' given there was a risk of further slides. Thus, anyone who had relatives buried in the necropolis had the possibility to come and remove their bodies until the 17th May, with officials supervising the massive exhumation. When we arrived with Victor on the morning of the 16th, a date we'd chosen by chance, we were surprised to see so many people, busy with shovels, pickaxes and others. The remains of the bodies were either inhumed in other cemeteries if the relatives managed to get an agreement, cremated at the Cementerio General, or buried in communal graves for those left after the 17th May.
Note that clandestine cemeteries are said to be visited by gravediggers, especially medecine students who are looking for fresh bodies to anatomize. Many people turned to us, grief-stricken, to tell us about their fears as they couldn't find the bodies they'd come to unearth.
On a more personal note, while being there, I felt a bit the same as what I felt when visiting the Machu Picchu: I totally understood why they'd decided to bury their dead on that hill; so close to the sky, so peaceful and with such an amazing view of the Illimani. If I'd been a believer, if I'd died around here before 26 February and if I'd gotten to choose where I wanted to be buried, that's the place I would have chosen - and that's a lot of 'if'.