guanajuato, day 8: museo de las momias

So today was an interesting day. The gf and I planned on going to the Museo de Las Momias, and to otherwise explore the further parts of Guanajuato on our way. According to our maps, the distance between us and the museum was just over twice the distance we had so far traveled, which only took us about 15 minutes, so we decided to hoof it. We took off at noon with water, cash, and my laptop.

I was hoping to stop at a cafe on the way and use their internet for calling the Fathers, since the connection at home is so weak, but we never managed to find a place that would be quiet enough. This is really too bad, since after getting home I have had almost no luck getting a connection at all. My computer does see a network called “Conquistador”, however, which I would guess to be coming from the coffee shop that the gf and I frequent. My guess is that I can swing by, grab some coffee, and ask for the key. Then I should be able to connect to their network from home, even though it’s a good 50 yards away. But I digress.

**Warning**

After the jump you will see some pictures of mummies that might very well make you uncomfortable. If you are faint of heart, don’t continue. I think a sign from the museum says it best:

“This room contains elements that can affect impressionable people or who have heart problems. In either case, it is recommended that you don’t enter.”

We took off today at noon for the museum. It is on Juarez, the main street through Guanajuato, but at the very opposite side of where we are staying. We made it a bit past the Jardin, the farthest we had gone before, and then plunged into the unknown.

That area of the city was unexpectedly different from ours. Where we are, there are only one-way streets that barely fit single-vehicle passage anyway, and everything is quite tightly packed. Walking down side-walks is immensely difficult in the middle of the day, because they only support one person-width. There are lots of shops and restaurants, but many of the doors we pass by seem to be for homes as well.

This new part was much more open, though still crowded and difficult to navigate, and seemed to contain nothing but shop after shop. Everyone seemed to be selling the same crap, just a different assortment of that crap, except for a few interesting stores. One store we peeked into contained some of the creepiest stuff that someone could by: little tiny ogre and mummy figurines and similar items. This was later overshadowed pretty hard in creepiness by the Museo do Las Momias, but seemed awfully bizarre at the time. There were also many interesting-looking restaurants, one of which had a giant wheel of chickens that rotated as the were roasted from fire on the inside. It smelled delicious! This was a huge contrast to the many carnecerias (meat shops) we walked by, which smell suspiciously like rotting flesh…

As we were walking through this area, there was an entrance to a little plaza on our right, so we checked it out. It turned out to be a good call, since there were several stands selling books and we managed to find copies of the first two Harry Potter books (in Spanish, of course). We had been hoping to find something like these to give us some fun but difficult Spanish practice. We got them both and continued on our way.

The Mercado Hidalgo is the building on the left.
The Mercado Hidalgo is the building on the left.

Shortly after, we passed by the Mercado Hidalgo, which is a giant building housing hundreds of stands where people are selling stuff. They had everything from fresh fruit to meat to statues of Jesus and coffee mugs. The major two themes for the items were Jesus and skeletons. We didn’t get anything, but just looked around to get an idea of what was there.

The last thing we did before leaving this shopping district was to check out a place that was basically a small mall. The gf was excited to see all kinds of soap and toothpaste and shampoo, etc etc. The shops in our area generally have only one or two kinds of each item, if they have any at all. More importantly, the mini-mall also had large amounts of candy…

We finally left this long stretch of stores and, with the sun bearing down, started to climb an immense hill. It seemed that we would never get to the top, but once we did we were in a residential area on the outskirts of the town, and were able to see the hilly part that surrounds the city. We kept walking and walking, following curvy roads that we expected to end at the museum but never did. We finally asked a guy in a tiny bike-repair shop “Donde esta el Museo de la Momias?”, and he just nodded and said “este calle” (this street), then something else in Spanish that I decided meant “close by.” So we continued on, barely able to appreciate the beautiful scenery due to exhaustion, dehydration, hunger, and the midday sun.

Then we got there. At first we were tricked by a sign on a small building that had a bunch of little shops in it and thought, “what the hell, we walked all this way for this?”, but after turning the corner actually saw the real deal. We bought tickets for both the Museo de las Momias and some other exhibit that seemed to be called the Cult of the Dead. It cost us $4.50 each.

We walked to what we thought was the entrance, but there were no more signs and just some guys in ties looking at us funny, so we were a bit confused. We asked if this was the entrance (in broken Spanish), and one of the guys chuckled and showed us in.

We were greeted by a video in a dark room showing black-and-white photos of mummies. There was no reason to watch, since we were about to see the real thing, but we sat down to rest for a few minutes anyway. Then we got up and started our self-led tour.

The first mummies we saw were in long glass cases on either side of a hallway, lined up to look across at one another. We couldn’t actually walk down this hall, but I got a picture!

We then wandered around the exhibit, looking at mummy after mummy in glass cases. All of them had grotesque expressions of complete agony (probably due to their lack of lips and no muscles keeping their bottom jaws up), and varied quite a bit in creepiness levels. Some of the mummies had little signs that briefly mentioned a name, exhumation date, and story, though I got the feeling that only the exhumation dates was true.

Remigio Leroy

By far, the creepiest part of the whole museum was an area with mummified babies. I’ll only post one picture here, in case you don’t want to see them, but I do have them all in flickr…

Ahhhhh!
Ahhhhh!

After exiting the museum, there was an entrance to the second part that we had bought tickets for. We went in and were met by this sign:

Which basically translates to: “Man that goes in pursuit of false illusion, here ends his life and starts eternity.”

This exhibit was basically a haunted house, only with real dead people and body parts. We walked through on the right side and came back on the left, and got to see such things as a mummified finger (!):

A mummified fetus (!!):

That's a fetus mummy. Under a magnifying glass so you can see it.

A body that was put in a coffin of spikes by Inquisitors so that he would be in pain even after death (!):

A chastity belt:

And so on. It was most certainly creepy, but somehow couldn’t match the dead babies of the Museum.

By this point we were finished with the mummies, and had certainly had our fill anyway, so we started back on the long trek home. Except for the fact that I was starving to death and had serious leg fatigue, the journey back seemed much shorter and more bearable than the journey there. Getting to walk down that giant hill probably didn’t hurt, either.

We stopped at a bakery so that I could get my sweet-tooth satisfied, and then made our way to Truco 7, where we finally got the set-menu option that is apparently hugely popular in Mexico for lunch.

The way it works is this: Mexicans have more meals than we do throughout the day, and lunch is the biggest one (around 2-4pm). Mexican restaurants, especially small and not up-scale ones, serve what is called comida corrida (which sort of translates to “fast food”). Basically, they just say “our menu for today consists of these four items and costs a tiny amount of money”, and that is your only option. Truco 7, being a bit more upscale, gave us the regular menu as well, and had two or three options for each part of their comida corrida. The set I picked had some delicious green beens as one course, a tasty chicken soup (that was almost sweet), and then some kind of pork (which was pretty good, but still the worst thing I’ve had at their restaurant). I also had some agua de lima (water of lime), which is very different from lime juice and was nothing like what I expected. As the gf described it, the drink was almost like lime and sugar put into some kind of floral tea. It was delicious.

There apparently is a big difference between jugo (juice) and agua de [insert fruit here]. The first is just juice, and the second is something amazing that is sort of like sweetened, watered-down juice with other unidentifiable flavors. I have never had anything like it in Mexico before, which is either due to my poor memory or the fact that I have only been to touristy places.

So anyway, we finished our meal ($3.80 for each of us!) and went home. Upon hitting the sunlight outside the restaurant, we both developed serious headaches. This was probably due to the combination of heat, exhaustion, dehydration, and the fact that we’d had no coffee for the first time since our arrival. I changed into shorts and took a nap as soon as we got back (around 3:30), but a three hour sleep wasn’t enough to kill off my headache, though it was certainly better. I was also suffering from a severe case of stomach over-expansion, since that $4 meal was gigantic (and I had been eating pastries).

After getting up, I spent the rest of the evening writing this entry, going through my pictures for the day, and trying to get on the internet long enough to post a few pictures (this wasn’t successful). And now I’m off to bed, in hopes of a less headachy tomorrow.

For the rest of the photos, go to my flickr.

One thought on “guanajuato, day 8: museo de las momias

  1. Hey Adam,

    Read about “The Day of the Dead”—-this is an extremely popular holiday in Mexico and other latin American countries where the afterlives of dead relatives are celebrated. I don’t know all the details, but I suspect that all the skeletons and figurines of dead people you are seeing are related to this holiday. You might ask the professor about it. Dad

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