First I have to give some explanations. In Germany it was or maybe still is (at least on the countryside) the use to go visiting a cimetary, even if nobody is burried there they know. Most of the graveyards are very beautiful and look like a park. I remember the one I used to go with my parents on sundays, just for a walk when I was a child. There were a lot of trees, almost a wood, banks to rest, a sandbox for children, a lot of flowers and the graves very well taken care of. It was not unusual that children played on the graves or run around and sometimes people even had their little pic-nic.
I also remember that I liked to look at the photos of the dead people lying there and which had been fixed in ceramic on the grave stones.
So when we moved to Belgium I thought the graveyards would look the same and one afternoon I went there with a friend just for a walk. Already at the entrance the warden gave us a suspicious look, he probably wondered what two young giggling girls are doing on a graveyard. But we noticed nothing and went on.
Of course the graves and the whole yard were completely different as the once we were used to, there were no trees or any green grass or bushes, all graves were covered with grey stone plates, sometimes in marmor, without or with artificial flowers. The whole thing looked very sad and grey.
So we went from grave to grave and then stepped down in a kind of grotto, with little compartments just like bank cases. From far away we heard a bell, several times but didn't pay attention. Then we had enough it was really too spooky here and it got already dark. We decided to go back.
Of course we got lost and couldn't find the exit, so we stumbled like to boozed girls between the graves and tried to find our way out. As it was a quite strange situation and we were not afraid of any ghosts coming out of the graves, we found it funny and laughed and giggled all the way long. Finally we saw street lamps and the exit. Now we wanted to go out, but the gate was locked. Nobody there, the ward was gone too ! We started to call at people on the street, but they just looked at us with big eyes, thought probably we were joking or were mad and just passed by. On top of it, both of us only spoke a very little French !
Finally an elderly man, came to the grid and asked what happened. We tried to explain him that we were locked in and couldn't get out ! He laughed said something and disappeared. It was hopeless ! But later we understood, because he came back with a policeman.
And now it started ! The policeman tried to get hold of somebody of the commune, of course all offices were closed in the City Hall. Finally he found somebody but this person didn't have the keys. Another policeman arrived and other people gathered around the gate and we looked like prisonners behind grids ! Everybody started laughing and one lady gave us an apple ! I asked for an orange. They all talked together where to find the key to get us out. The gate was far to high to climb over it and the cimetary was surrounded by a high wall too. I think they all were afraid that white dressed corpses would want to get out !
Finally a breathless guy arrived shaking a bunch of keys ! He looked them through, found the right key, opened the gate and we walked out. We were greated with laughter and "ahs" and "ohs" like long lost friends and some people even clapped their hands. The two policemen found it less funny and took us both to the policestation. That was the first but not the last time I had been in one. We had to make an official declaration, how and why we got locked in and we told them we hadn't payed attention to the ringing bell, we didn't know what it was ! They didn't alert our parents and let us go and this was good, because knowing our fathers they would have been very upset with the policemen and the responsible of the cimetary and not at all with us, because for them a cimetary was a place to wander around and enjoy !
Today I am thinking of German tourists who, in every country want to go and visit a cimetary and they don't understand why other countries find this use quite strange !
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