Sierra Helada’s mourners

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THE stunning views from the Sierra Helada range that towers over Benidorm are proving to be an irresistible draw for the wrong kind of reasons.

People have taken to using its vantage point as a cemetery for ashes and epitaphs for departed loved ones; much to the irritation of the park rangers who are left to clear up the unusual mess.

Items have included plastic wreaths, photographs, and personal objects of the deceased, and quite incredibly even the recently emptied urns from which the departed’s ashes had been poured.

It is not unusual to see empty burger wrappers and cups littering car parks where the lazy anti-social types have simply not been bothered to bin them. It is something else when the litter consists of urns and plastic flowers, labelled ‘Forever in our Thoughts.’

Most people who empty these urns in the park are foreigners, according to the names on the plates of the vessels, Environmental Volunteer coordinator, Javier Perez, and the manager of the PAMER Brigade (Rural Employment Plan), Juan Jose Mascarell said.

The manager also said that it was easy to guess the nationality of those who use this natural park area as a mausoleum by reading the metal plates engraved with the usual dedications in whatever language, many of which get bolted to the grid surrounding the cross that sits on the summit.

Many mourners in an effort to honour their dead, pin plastic flowers, photographs, poems and emotional verses and personal items to the cross, not realising that wind and weather inevitably end up dragging the effects to other areas of the park, both on land and out to sea.
The problem does not end there.

Besides metal urns being hurled off the cliffs or dumped by the side of the road, some people have taken to burrying their pets creating an impromptu pet cemetery.

And there are those who have even constructed mini mausoleums to house artefacts. Every so often, technicians of the Environment, and volunteers from the area, clean and remove this ‘debris’.

The unplanned casting of ashes and other items has consequences. “The wanton discarding of items is causing certain objects to come into our aquifers and the sea, and from there into the food chain. But people forget,” said Mascarell.

Almost 37 tons of garbage has been collected by the PAMER Brigade since it began work last June 11 in the park and other rural of the municipality.

Among the other items sofas and electrical appliances have been removed, “The worst thing is that sometimes you clear an area, and the day after in the same place you cannot  move for rubbish,” said one volunteer.

By Paul Deed

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