While staying in San Miguel, we were repeatedly encouraged to visit nearby Guanajuato.  Plenty of tours were available for about $75 a head, but inevitably organized tours are a compromise between the fattest, laziest, most decrepit, and loudest people in the group.  Since we lack patience for any of those characteristics, we decided to slum it and organize everything ourselves.

We heard only a little about Guanajuato before our arrival:  that it was built in a narrow valley, so the city was built upwards rather than outwards.  “Expect a lot of hillls and climbing.”  That it had a series of underground tunnels for walking and driving.  That there was a large university.  And that there was a famous mummy museum.  Sounds like a great combination

We took a 1 hour first class bus trip from San Miguel de Allende.  The total round trip cost 205 pesos each (about $16.25 USD.)  From the Guanajuato bus station we took a 5 peso city bus into town with 50 of our newest friends.  The driver drove as if he was in a time trial, taking the windy mountain roads at top speed.  Good times were had by all

Public Transit is the best

Public Transit is the best, 5 pesos a head

We had no idea where the bus station was located, how long it would take to get to The Centro, or how to recognize that we had indeed arrived at our destination, yet somehow we managed to get off the bus at the exact center of town in the Plaza de la Paz, next to one of the most recognized landmarks.  Crisis averted

Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato

Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato

We meandered a bit about the streets and found ourselves in the Jardin Union where we had a nice brunch in the Casa Valadez.  Outdoor seating gave us a great view into the Jardin, where we could watch the people going about their business.  Their business seemed to mostly revolve around sitting on the park benches, drinking coffee, and reading newspapers, quite similar to a typical day in San Miguel de Allende.  The primary difference was the average age, about 30 years younger thanks to the 25,000 students at the local University

Fountain in the center of the Jardin de la Union

Fountain in the center of the Jardin de la Union

Next to the Jardin was a beautiful theater, the Teatro Juarez. Had we been planning to spend a few days in Guanajuato, it would have been a nice place to see a show or concert.

Teatro Juarez

Teatro Juarez

After brunch, we wandered into one of the tunnels. Apparently these tunnels used to be the site of a river, but after flooding the river was rerouted. Now these tunnels are used as main throughways for vehicles to get across town, basically a subway system but for private cars and taxis. Without any obvious sign of ventilation, the longer tunnels smelled a bit like gasoline, probably not the healthiest place to go for a stroll

A maze of underground tunnels

A maze of underground tunnels

Building extending over the roadway at a tunnel exit

Buildings extending over the roadway at a tunnel exit

We walked through the center of town, up, up… and up, heading in the direction of the Mummy Museum (El Museo de Las Momias.) We followed the signs and looked at the map, which was obviously not drawn to scale, and after an hour or so finally arrived. Along the way we had a great view back over the valley

10 pesos to the 1st person to find the Basilica

10 pesos to the 1st person to find the Basilica

The Mummy Museum charged 52 pesos per person for admission. They also wanted to charge an extra 20 pesos to take pictures, but we just pretended not to notice that little hand written sign… as did the other 20 or so mummy enthusiasts. It seems the conditions in the crypts in the nearby cemetery are ideal for mummification. The owners of said cemetery were nice enough to dig up the bodies if family members weren’t able to pay the necessary taxes, and then charge people to view the bodies. Classy

The lead actor from Michael Jackson's Thriller video

The lead actor from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video

The best way to describe the museum is creepy. A lot of the bodies have no clothes, and its amazing how certain unmentionable body parts appear after the mummification process has done its thing. At least one of the corpses is theorized to have been buried alive. Another had died while pregnant, and the mummified corpse of the baby was on full display

"Mummy, where are you?"

“Mummy, where are you?”

In total, we spent less than 5 minutes in the museum, partly because it was small. And did I mention that it was creepy?

We took a taxi back to the Jardin Union and chillaxed under a tree for awhile. Winnie had been feeling ill earlier and was worse for the wear, so we decided to cut the trip short by a few hours. We were able to take a quick taxi back to the bus station in order to catch the next bus back to San Miguel

Guanajuato is a beautiful little town, well worth a visit. Mummies optional

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