One of the things about this trip that has bothered me is that we just don’t seem to do anything. If you saw Will’s latest post and the map that accompanied it it looks like we’re just driving back and forth aimlessly and in a way we were. It was hard but Will had work obligations that kept up restricted to the north central areas and western coast.
While we definitely saw and experienced some incredible things I started to feel lost. I felt like we were just driving this road for the sake of driving it and neglecting the fact that there are so many stupefying things about Mexico that we were missing.
Of course, we can’t see it all, but we did resolve to do a little more planning and a lot more sight seeing. And it turns out that Guanajuato is the perfect place to do that. So what did we choose as our first major sightseeing tour?
The Guanajuato mummies of course.
I love creepy shit. I love macabre history and if there’s evidence of it I’ll pay the entrance fee, no questions asked. But the Guanajuato mummies takes macabre to a whole new level. I’ve seen mummies before; Peru and Egypt are rife with mummies. Even that little mummy found in Peru that many thought to be of alien origin piqued my interest (yeah, I like aliens and haunted stuff too) even though I’ve seen little in the way of credible information to indicate that it was an alien.
But back to the Guanajuato mummies. This case is so fascinating and so weird that I’m surprised everyone in the world doesn’t know about. Hell, even Werner Herzog used some footage from the museum for his film “Nosferatu the Vampyre” and that was back in the1970’s. But the interesting fact about these mummies is that they weren’t intended to be mummies at all. They just died.
By most accounts the cholera outbreak occurred in Guanajuato in the early 1830’s. The dead were buried and no one thought much of it until 1870 when the municipality decided to enact a burial tax, meaning that if you wanted the body of your loved one to stay in the ground you had to pay for it. Obviously, not everyone had that kind of money laying around so the disinterment began.
The workers who were tasked with this grisly job began to notice that many of the bodies were in surprisingly good condition and these specimens were placed in a nearby warehouse. Some scientists believe that the altitude and relatively dry climate of Guanajuato caused the mummification and some say that the bodies were at least partially embalmed. Regardless, many of the Guanajuato mummies still have hair on their heads, I spied a beard, their clothing is relatively intact, and the honor of the world’s smallest mummy goes to the mummified fetus of a pregnant woman who fell to the cholera outbreak.
By the 1900’s the workers began charging people a few pesos to see the bodies and then the museum was officially opened in 1969. If you’re ever in Guanajuato and don’t mind strolling through a building full of dead people, I highly recommend it.
These are some of my favorite photos from our visit.
Scroll down if you dare.
You’ve made it this far! Congratulations! Now head to Mexico and see the Guanajuato mummies for yourself.