Lost souls

Along a dusty side street in the Old Barrio near downtown Tucson, colorful, quaint buildings frame the crumbling remains of a 150-year-old adobe wall known as El Tiradito. Variously translated as “the wishing shrine” or “castaway,” the site is said to be the final resting place of 18-year-old Juan Oliveras, a casualty in an unfortunate 1870s love triangle. Today the site is visited by thousands, who adorn a wrought-iron rack with candles, flowers, melted wax, fading photographs, letters sealed in bottles and other momentos of loved ones lost. It is a quiet place of remembrance amidst a bustling town. Once a year, on the evening of Nov. 4, the shrine is aglow with brilliant candlelight, as folks come to celebrate All Soul’s Eve. Some stuff notes in the cracked brick wall, others re-light candles and keep the sacred grounds tidy. El Tiradito is a shrine that speaks a thousand silent words to those who listen. Here’s a look: