Over Easter weekend, the family I live with let me come along on a trip to Guanajuato. I don’t think anyone else in the family was interested, but I wanted to see the mummies and they humored me. Nice folks!
But before you think Egyptian mummies, these folks were not prepared for becoming mummies. There’s no linen wrapped bodies or pyramids. Most weren’t even embalmed. These folks, or the people who prepared their bodies, certainly didn’t expect the bodies to be put on display. No, these corpses are only about 150 years old (or less) and come from a nearby cemetery. They weren’t buried in the ground (with one exception), but entombed and simply dried out. The air is quite dry here, the soil alkaline and the tombs isolated the bodies from the elements and many organisms,. Unfortunately, their tombs had been rented, not purchased, so when the families couldn’t pay, or couldn’t be found, they were put here, in Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato.
By US standards, this is pretty gruesome, but Mexicans have a different, more familiar and accepting view of death. Somehow, I feel slightly guilty about my visit, though. Can you say voyeur?
According to Wikipedia: “The first mummy was put on display in 1865. It was the body of Dr. Remigio Leroy. The museum, containing at least 108 corpses, is located above the spot where the mummies were first discovered. Numerous mummies can be seen throughout the exhibition, of varying sizes. The museum is known to have the smallest mummy in the world, a fetus from a pregnant woman who fell victim to cholera. Some of the mummies can be seen wearing parts of the clothing in which they were buried.”
More from Wikipedia: “The mummies are a notable part of Mexican popular culture, echoing the national holiday “The Day of the Dead” (El Dia de los Muertos). A B movie titled Santo vs. The Mummies of Guanajuato (1970) pitted the well-known Mexican professional wrestler Santo and several others against reanimated mummies.”
“Author Ray Bradbury visited the catacombs of Guanajuato with his friend Grant Beach and wrote the short story “The Next in Line” about his experience. In the introduction to The Stories of Ray Bradbury he wrote the following about this story: ‘The experience so wounded and terrified me, I could hardly wait to flee Mexico. I had nightmares about dying and having to remain in the halls of the dead with those propped and wired bodies. In order to purge my terror, instantly, I wrote ‘The Next in Line.’ One of the few times that an experience yielded results almost on the spot.‘”
“To conjure a morbid and eerie atmospheric opening sequence to his film Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), German director Werner Herzog used footage he had taken of several of the mummies.”
I really didn’t have a concept of how many times I’d move during this adventure. It’s not always that I’m in a bad situation, but sometimes I just find something better. In this case, MUCH better.
The shabby rooming house I was living in was going downhill. There was always a plumbing issue. Usually at least one bathroom was always unusable. But lately the owners had simply stopped responding to requests–like the day we had no water, with no explanation or estimate as to when we’d have water again. It was over 12 hours and I never knew what the problem was. Others had already left–half the rooms were empty–and I was looking for something better. One of my dear, dear students, Meliza, offered to let me live with her family in exchange for teaching her two sons English. It’s turned out to be a godsend–lovely people, a very nice home and a comfortable, safe situation for me. The boys even act as though they don’t mind my English lessons.
The only downside is that it’s an hour’s bus ride to the main school branch. At least the buses run pretty regularly and are mostly clean and not too over crowded, but there’s lots of cobblestone streets and barely a shock-absorber in sight. I was working 26 teaching hours a week, commuting into the school twice a day (4 hours total commute time), all the usual (unpaid) prep time/paperwork/grading) and teaching the two boys daily. It made for long hours, less opportunity to blog and and a very tired girl.
This 4 week session I’ve landed a better schedule with half the commute time, so I feel much better and hope to come back to blogging more. I also hope to explore the new neighborhood more and—some please hold me to this–join a gym.
One event I didn’t post about from February: The Chocolate Festival! It was a small event, but it’s the first annual, so I expect it to grow.
“Caja del Auga” translates loosely as “The Water Box” but it’s really a very fancy cistern, once used to keep the city in water and the fountains flowing. It’s become one of the symbols of San Luis Potosi. Continue reading “Caja del Aqua, San Luis Potosi” »
I’ve used El Callejon del Carino dozens of times. It’s a narrow pedestrian path, not more than 4 meters wide. I like it because of the evocative name and as a shaded respite on hot days. It’s only a block long, located between Francisco Madero Avenue and Venustiano Carranza Avenue, two major thoroughfares. But it was only recently that I noticed a sign at one end with an English translation. I translated the name as “the alley of the dear one” and an online translation called it the “alley of caring.” The sign called it the “alley of fondness.” I like them all. Continue reading “The alley of fondness” »