Ducking Under Tunnels: Guanajuato

Our final weekend vacation was to the city of Guanajuato in the state of the same name. I think it was the most beautiful city that I have visited all semester. Guanajuato is set up on an old silver mine. Half of the city is inside a mountain! The old mining tunnels were converted into roads and they guard the entrance to the city proper. Driving through those tunnels was at the same time awesome and claustrophobia-inducing. 

We arrived at night and spent more time than necessary scoping out a restaurant to have dinner. It ended up being delicious – as is the usual for Mexican food. I have never had such yummy tortilla soup!

The next morning we started off bright and sunny with the Mummy Museum! Guanajuato is famous for its naturally preserved mummies. There is something in the soil that dehydrates the cadavers to mummify them. The museum was extremely different from the times that I’ve visited Egyptian mummies. These mummies were still in the clothes they were buried in — down to socks and shoelaces. It was a little eerie to be honest. What really creeped me out were the babies. If a baby died, they were dressed up before they were buried and their small bodies mummified just as easily as the adults’ did. We saw the most perfectly preserved mummy in the world – a man without even the slightest crack in his skin and the smallest mummy in the word – a six month old unborn baby. We toured the “Museum of Death” right next door and I got to show off (I don’t think that’s the right word.) my knowledge of medieval torture devices from all the times Dad has taken me to Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museums and my own independent research on the time period. The devices to promote chastity/punish unchastity were rather gruesome back then. 

After the mummies, we needed a little fresh air so we went to get a bird’s eye view of the city. I’m pretty sure a fly flew into my mouth as I was gaping at the beauty of Guanajuato. The belfry of the Cathedral of Guanajuato is just behind Katelyn’s shoulder and the white building behind it is the University of Guanajuato. 

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We continued our tour to La Valencia, a very beautiful church in Guanajuato and were scared out of our skins at the tarantula that one of the guys found and decided to show everyone. It jumped at us, I swear. 

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After La Valencia, we journeyed to the Mines of Valencia. We climbed down 70 meters with the aid of electricity and ropes to assist our descent. Our guide informed us how the indigenous people of Guanajuato were forced to work in the mines to extract silver, gold and other ores to pay off ‘debts’ that sprang up out of nowhere. Something frightening was that the miners carried torches through the minuscule tunnels and if their torch went out, they could be left in the mine for up to three days waiting for someone to pass their way to relight their torch.

After the mines, we explored one of the more subtle attractions of Guanajuato: La Calle de Besos. (The Avenue of Kisses) This street is where the houses are so close together that, as the legend goes, two lovers merely had to stand on their respective balconies to kiss. We wanted to walk through so two of our guys started the line. (Un)luckily for them, the giant crowd surrounding the entrance to the street wanted a kiss. To shouts of “Beso! Beso! Beso!” (Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!), they had a wonderful man-hug. 

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We explored a big indoor marketplace with our British friend, Mark, whom we met while admiring the skyline of Guanajuato. We walked around downtown and with the assistance of Mark’s tour book found this little coffee shop where Katelyn and I enjoyed “El Beso Negro,” the most concentrated 3oz of Belgian hot chocolate I’ve ever had. It was delicious! We also walked by el Teatro Juarez where the movie premiere for Luna Escondida (Hidden Moon) was going on. We explored that theater the next day and it was absolutely beautiful on the inside! 

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We also found a newly opened museum on Don Quijote and toured all the galleries of different artist’s interpretations of the classic tale. Tucked into a corner was a Salvador Dali with minimal pomp. It strikes me as strange that in the States, a painting by such a renown artist, no matter how small, would be paraded and put on a pedestal. There are so many priceless gems here in Mexico that have nothing really promoting how incredible they are. 

On our way out of Guanajuato, we climbed up the mountain (in our bus) to see El Cristo Rey (Christ the King) which is Guanjuato’s own 20 meter statue of Jesus overlooking the city. It was absolutely gorgeous! Our trip to Guanajuato could not be complete without a rapid-fire photoshoot of our two Bearded Ballerinas so I leave you with a gem of my own.

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