Hola from Guanajuato, Mexico! This past weekend, Mexico observed Constitution Day, meaning that everyone could enjoy Monday off. My friends and I decided to use the break as an extra day for us to travel! Arriving at Guanajuato around 11 am on Saturday, we decided to take one of the guided tours of the city. Paying 150 pesos per person ($8), we were all able to ride together, see the city, and save money we’d otherwise have to spend on Ubers!
The tour itinerary took us to a museum after museum; the attractions ranging from slightly hokey history museums to intense exhibits on the Spanish Inquisition. One of my favorite stops was when we put on hard hats and descended into one of the famous silver mines in Guanajuato. The steps leading to the main cavern were incredibly steep and it was surprisingly warm once we arrived at the bottom. Our tour guide traced the dark lines that ran across the ceiling of the cave and explained that they were actually veins of silver. We also learned how miners would carry canaries with them to signal the presence of toxic gases in the cave. Still panting from the stairs, I was shocked to learn that the miners did not enjoy the simple pleasure of stairs… or even ladders. We saw a large log with notches cut along the side that miners used as a makeshift ladder. I couldn’t even fathom climbing back up like that; much less while carrying several pounds worth of silver.
After the mines, the tour van took us a little farther down the road to a Mexican candy shop (complete with free samples!). We were able to try everything from cinnamon to agave flavored candies. We also encountered the caramel shaped “momias” (mummies) dressed in traditional clothing from Guanajuato.
These momias were a tribute to our final stop – the famous Mummy Museum in Guanajuato. Besides the Silvermine, this was one of my favorite stops on the tour. With our Tec student IDs, we were able to get a discount before entering! (Always ask if there are student promos when visiting museums abroad, most times you can get free entry!) Discovered in the early 1900s, several bodies were uncovered and found to be astonishingly well preserved. I was stunned to see people of all ages preserved in the position they were laid to rest. Some still had their eyes and full, thick heads of hair. Many still had a few articles of deteriorated clothing still attached to their bodies. I felt slightly sad as I thought about the mummies as people that once lead lives in Guanajuato, though I was thankful to be able to see such an interesting phenomenon.
The next morning I ventured off on my own for a bit and decided to see Diego Rivera’s childhood home that has since been converted into a museum, complete with some of his artwork. I saw a copy of his famous mural depicting Mexican history and was excited to recognize some of the figures that we had just discussed in my Mexican Culture and Thought class. I also really enjoyed seeing the evolution of Rivera’s work as he tried different styles including cubism and even some political commentary pieces.
Afterward, I ventured deeper into downtown and found the Guanajuato City History Museum. With it being Constitution Day, there were huge exhibits on the era of Mexican independence and the age of reform. One of the most interesting pieces I saw came from the room dedicated to the Presidency of Santa Anna. I found a small piece discussing the Mexican Cession and thought it was neat to consider this historical event from the perspective of Mexico. Growing up and being educated in Texas, the Mexican Cession was a moment of pride for the United States and especially Texans! Visiting this exhibit made me realize how the same event we cherish contributed to the ruin of Santa Anna and his credibility as a general and leader of the Republic of Mexico.
Reuniting with my friends at the mercado by our Airbnb, we decided to go to the Don Quijote Museum. Having taken a Spanish literature class prior to my museum visit, I had read an abridged version of the Spanish classic! Though it had been years, I was overwhelmed with excitement when I saw all of the artwork dedicated to this literature. It made me happy to think about how many people Cervantes continues to reach and bring together with his characters.
We celebrated a truly American Superbowl, complete with burgers and fries at a restaurant showing the game in downtown Guanajuato. The only thing I missed was the famous Superbowl commercials; Mexico doesn’t broadcast them! We left the restaurant and joined the masses of people sitting on the steps of the theater as we waited for the evening’s last callejoneada to begin. A callejoneada is a walk through the streets of Guanajuato, guided by a group of singers dressed in renaissance style clothes that sing traditional Mexican songs and play stringed instruments/percussion.
We were guided through the narrow alleys of Guanajuato, stopping along the way for jokes and declarations of love. The whole experience was goofy, yet romantic and light-hearted. We finished the evening on the steps of The University of Guanajuato belting out the chorus of Cielito Lindo into the night sky.
This post was contributed by Paige Johnson, a 2019 Global Ambassador majoring in International Relations and Global Studies.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about Paige’s experience in Mexico>>