guanajuato: day 15

Today is a nice relaxing day; the weather is great, we don’t really have any work we have to do, and we’re healthy! In the park across the street, some sort of festival or otherwise loud activity has been going on all day, with bouts of drumming, dancing, singing, and the playing of various musical instruments. The quality has ranged from interesting to bad to meh (an expression of disinterest). We have generally avoided the sights, though the sounds are totally unavoidable.

Since we were pretty healthy yesterday we decided to hit up all of the nearby museums. There are around 11 that our touristy map mentions, and we went for numbers one through five.

We started the day in Cafe Conquistador, had some drinks and looked through our map and guidebook (which of course also required looking through our dictionaries).

Our map presented the places in exactly the order we would run into them if we started walking down Juarez, though they were all on the street just North of that main drag. So we left the cafe and went to our first destination, the Museo Iconografico del Quijote.

Unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures inside, so the only pic I have is of the seal at the entrance (above). This was a pretty fun museum, and it was free (with our don Quijote student IDs)! It was two floors of nothing but renditions and interpretations of the don Quijote character invented by Cervantes. I have never read the book, and I think that many of the images/sculptures would have been more meaningful and interesting had I actually read it. Regardless, it was quite entertaining.

After the roughly 40 minutes spend at the Quijote museum, we went to look for a small natural history museum that was on our map. I was excited about this, of course, but the people we asked for directions didn’t seem to know what we were talking about, and when we got to the indicated location we couldn’t actually find the place. So apparently it doesn’t exist. But we found the University, which I understand is one of the best in Mexico.

After climbing the long, steep flight of stairs to the Univeristy entrance (above), we had a great vantage point for looking at the city.

Looking out from the University steps.
Still looking out...

So, after being disappointed by the non-existence of the natural history museum, we continued to the Museo del Pueblo (Museum of the People).

Everything was in Spanish, of course, but I am pretty sure that all of the art on display was by local or local-ish artists. This once cost us 5 pesos each (50 cents), but would have been an entire 15 pesos if we weren’t students. I tried taking a few pictures in here, but mostly without success due to bad lighting. A cool mural that was in the museum follows:

A mural at the Museo del Pueblo.

We didn’t spend much time in the Museo del Pueblo, as it wasn’t that big and their current large exhibit is by some artist who just scrubs some black stuff onto canvas and calls it art. It all looked the same and was rather boring and unimpressive (I prefer artistic works that clearly required talent on the part of the artist).

Our third stop was the Diego Rivera museum. This cost us another 50 cents each (!) and started with a walk through what I guess might have been his original home. Or a place that contained things that were in his home. It was unclear. And boring. I have very little interest in old furniture, unless it does something interesting or is incredibly ornate. This furniture had neither of those qualities.

After being briefly concerned that our dollar had gone to waste, we climbed a flight of stairs that brought us to his actual artwork. As anyone who knows me is well aware, I have almost no knowledge of literature or art, and so pretty much everything I saw was new and refreshing (except, of course, the realistic portraits of random people). It helped that Rivera’s style was pretty much every kind of style. I don’t recall if we were allowed to take pictures or not, but I didn’t (so my guess is that we couldn’t). About halfway through the museum I began to feel faint as my body started to digest itself, but this passed shortly after leaving the museum (we wanted to wait until 2pm to eat, when comida corrida is served everywhere).

Our next and final museum was the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, where we were dismayed to be charged 46 pesos to enter (with no discount). It didn’t take us long to put this into perspective and realize that we were going to a museum for just under $5. But then we found that they were going to charge us another 30 pesos to take pictures, which is why we didn’t take any.

The Alhóndiga de Granaditas.

This museum covered the history of Guanajuato, going from thousands-of-years-old stamps to the late 1800s. It was less exhaustive than it sounds, with very large gaps between periods. The museum was still rather large and pretty fascinating, though the history of the building itself is, I think, more so.

The structure is basically an old fort that served as the site of an important battle at the beginning of the revolution against Spanish rule (my apologies for not knowing any Mexican history). It appears that an army of peasants marched to the fort, armed with farming tools, but were being killed in large numbers by the small amount of Spanish troops inside, who had guns. So some peasant volunteered to crawl to the fort with a rock on his back as armor, and lit a door or something on fire. He died of course, but his sacrifice allowed entry to the peasnts who slaughtered the Spaniards. I’m not sure if this guy’s name was Pipila or not, but somehow this word is connected to him and to this story, so he is a very famous figure in Guanajuato. The big statue of a man pointing upwards that overlooks the city is of this guy, and is called the Pipila. We have yet to go to it, since I guess it requires a pretty difficult climb up a steep slope, but we will by next weekend.

Looking out from the exit of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas.

We finished the museums and lunch by 3:00, and were fairly exhausted. So we played video games and watched TV for the rest of the day.

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