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Published: August 3rd 2008
The small city of Guanajuato made quite an impact on us as we approached it. The taxi went through a number of tunnels and the city was all cobblestone and steep hills. We were dropped on the street and sent up some stairs to Casa Bertha. We walked to a quiet plaza and were pointed the right way by an internet cafe guy. He also mentioned Casa Pita around the corner so we went there first. The lady was nice and spoke English and her house was beautiful with lots of tiles and ornaments. We accepted a charming room with a balcony for P$450 (US$43) but soon realised that she lied about the cable. She had said there were 61 channels but we only found 8 free channels. Confronting her she started with 'I will have to check the cable on the roof' and proceeded to tell us it worked in her kitchen. She tried to divert the discussion by asking if we didn't like the room. Her final attempt was to say that only the posh hotels and her house had cable at all. What bollocks. We left without paying. We didn't mind if there wasn't cable but she wasn't
honest about it. At Casa Bertha we got a big room with a great view of the city from the terrace for P$300. And the TV had the full compliment of cable channels.
We got a map of the sites from Jorge at Casa Bertha and went off to explore. We immediately found a lovely place for a cup of coffee and while we contemplated our next move Jorge's father came and introduced himself. He already knew my name and bowed having made the connection from Rae to rey (Spanish for king) to reina (queen). He told Pieter he needed to show me respect. So lovely.
We decided to see the Museo de las Momias. We took a bus ride up the hill to the cemetery and paid the P$60 each to see the museum and another smaller exhibit. Inside the museum were the mummies of dozens of people who had been removed from the cemetery when space was needed and their relatives hadn't paid the fees. The climate here was ideal for creating mummies and many were only in the ground for a few years before becoming mummies. Many of the exhumed mummies were cremated and only
the best ones were kept for the museum. A French doctor from the early 20th century was the first to be discovered. One poor lady had been buried alive as you could see by the look on her face. And there was a 6 month old foetus that was supposed to be the smallest known mummy. Morbid curiosity had taken us there and we found it disrespectful to take photos like other people. Some people were posing with the mummies. After the museum we visited the cemetery where most of the tombs and headstones read 'R.I.P'. Hmm. Not so likely in this cemetery.
We walked back to town and returned to our hotel to rest and watch the cable TV that didn't exist in cheaper hotels.
It was Saturday night and the centre was buzzing with clowns and music and lots of people. We were tempted to try one of the posh restaurants on the beautiful Plaza la Union but decided on a cheap rotisserie chicken instead. At Casa Bertha Jorge's father had lots of well dressed visitors. He himself was beautiful dressed like a gangster.
Next day we visited the Museo del Pueblo (P$15) which contained
lovely miniature kitchens and a variety of art as well as having a chapel and a Morado mural.
Following that we went to the Museo y Casa Diego Rivera (P$15). Rivera was born here and the ground floor was maintained as a late 19th century house while the upper floors contains his art. It was really good and we saw some of his early work that had no political overtones.
We had no idea what the 'Alhondiga de Granaditas' was and at P$46 it was very expensive, but we trusted there would be something good inside and went in. The former granary was now a museum of art and history. Big and square and made of pink stone we found beautiful Morado murals on the grand staircases. The building had been the scene of a battle in 1810. The rebels, lead by Hidalgo, surrounded the building and 'El Pipila', the hero of the story, strapped a stone on his back for armour and burned the gates down allowing the rebels to kill the Spanish and loyalists inside.
We waited for a bus to Valenciana but gave up quickly and took a P$30 taxi ride to the top
of the hill. The church, built by a rich mine owner, was beautiful but stuffed with tour groups. We visited Bocamina, a pretty building associated with the mining industry but without a guide it was a little ho hum and the hole in the ground with all the stairs was not so much interesting as quite exhausting.
Back in town we visited the market then returned to our hotel, sitting on the terrace and absorbing the last rays of sunshine before the cold night closed in.
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