Guanajuato y Momias

Guanjuato was an unfortunate destination. Due to rain, sickness, bad hostel with a mosquito, we did not enjoy the city as much as it deserves. Well … that’s not true. We did enjoy the panoramic city. We had the chance to walk a lot under the rain and enjoy a lively Friday afternoon full of university students (or were they high school students?).

The city is built on top of a labyrinth of tunnels. These tunnels used to be used during the 300 mining years when Spain took all the gold from Mexico. Now it is used as a “freeway” to avoid the plethora of callejones and small streets. Guanajuato has over 1,000 callejones each with a unique legend like Callejon del Beso.

Callejon del Beso has a narrow staircase and two balconies a few feet apart. Legend has it that a beautiful Spaniard women named Ana was neighbors with a poor Mexican miner. One night, Ana’s father found the couple kissing on the balconies and the father warned her that she could not see Carlos, if he found them again kissing, he would kill her. Being the only daughter, she never thought her dad would do such a thing, hence the next day she was kissing Carlos on the balcony. Her father, without warning, stabs her to death. As she is falling from the balcony, Carlos gets to kiss her hand and she lands on the third step of the staircase. The legend states that any couple that walks through el Callejon must kiss on the third step, failure to do so bad luck will exists for 7 years! And again, of course Sara and I took full advantage of that legend. Combined with San Miguel’s park and Callejon, we have our next 21 years set! =)

The most memorable experiences in Guanajuato were the Museo de Momias and the callejonada.  We hiked to the museum in the rain and we were told to buy tickets at the museum and not from random people on the street in order to make sure that we go to the actual Museo de Momias.  I guess that means there must be a fake mummy museum…interesting!  So after arriving, we were fortunate enough to listen to a video about the history of the museum, including the fact that all the mummies were naturally preserved and had been in vertical crypts or tombs for 5 years and excavated if the families did not pay the tax to keep the body in the tomb.  How strange that this law still exists in Mexico!  You have to pay a certain amount 5 years after the death of an individual to keep their remains in that location buried…otherwise the remains will be removed and cremated.  Only 1% of the bodies in these crypts underwent the mummification process.  The others underwent putrefaction and decomposed.  At the museum, we were led in a group by a guide who explained that the oldest mummy was a doctor from the mid 1800s.  The museum also housed the world’s smallest mummy, an approximately 5-6 month old fetus whose mother still had a cesarean wound and died of being famished.  The guide told us that the mummies have 3 enemies: tourists, humidity, and insects.  Another cool fact was that the mummies used to be just standing one alongside another and tourists could touch them, but many tourists would take pieces of their clothing, hair, or skin as memorabilia.  That’s why tourists are one of the enemies!  So now they are behind glass with special lights.

We did the callejonada on Saturday night at 10 pm with the Santa Teresa group of estudiantes from Guanajuato University.  I knew the night would be crazy when we walked to the Teatro at 9:45 pm and saw a group of friends from Tijuana and San Diego taking Don Julio tequila shots with lemon and salt.  And they were definitely drunk before the callejonada even started.  We received our copa de Guanajuato as a souvenir so they could identify who was in the group and had paid for the event.  Anyway, the night started with the eight students dressed in traditional Spanish dress from the time of Cervantes each playing different instruments including some type of violin, viola, cascabel, and other string instruments.  They serenaded the women and sang traditional songs along the callejonadas of Guanajuato as we followed closely behind.  Needless to say, even though the tour was supposed be an 1 hour and 15 minutes, there was still singing at 12 am on the steps of the university.

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