Thursday, October 27, 2011
Their families were poor, not around or just plain dead. They couldn't pay the grave tax that was required for their loved ones in the ground. The punishment for not paying the tax? Taking the body out of the ground and putting it into a museum for the whole world to see......
Fortunately for the grave diggers, some of the bodies were naturally mummified. The soil conditions and the dry climate of the mountainous areas were perfect for the bodies to dry out and not decompose.
On one of my visits to Guanajuato, Mexico, I thought it was due time to check out these "mummies" every tourist in town had been talking about. What I saw, I was not expecting. There were all kinds of mummies only about 146 years old! Some had all their clothes on while others just their socks. And all the babies! There were case after case of tiny dead babies. Yes, insert dead baby joke here.
Speaking of dead babies, there was even a mother and child mummy. The baby had died during a caesarean section. The mothers stomach was nothing but folded skin and the baby is known as one of the smallest mummies. One other one is said to have been buried alive! Her arms were covering her face and there were scratches on her forehead. Oh and don't forget stab wounds. Gross huh? So gross I took pictures!
But is taking photos and touring a building filled with dried up people that died not that long ago right? And only because their families couldn't afford to pay the grave tax? Don't know. How many years have to pass till it's "okay"? All I know is that this tourist spot has earned a great deal of money for the city and shows it's history and how it's mountains not only produce gold, but VERY interesting mummies. They have stories, lives, even relatives in the case with them. I learned so much more about these people than I would have if they were ancient aztecs.
If you would like to tip toe through the halls of this mummy museum, you can find it in Guanajuato, Gto. Mexico (NW of Mexico City). The closest airport is in Leon and it's about an hour car ride to the town. The city bus also does frequent passes. Happy Halloweeny!