Thursday, November 01, 2012

November 2012 Travel Photo: Guanajuato Cemetery

One of the major attractions in the Mexican city of Guanajuato is the city cemetery.  Rows upon rows of bodies are interned in above ground burials.  However, most people do not come to see the graves but something else.

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Since the rise of Mexican national socialism/positivism in the 1870s, the city has controlled the cemetery and required families and/or friends to pay rent for a spot.  When family can no longer pay then the bodies are moved from the cemetery, and if mummified, moved into the adjacent museum which houses the largest collection of mummies in the Western Hemisphere.

The incredibly warm and dry climate of the elevated interior of Mexico can quickly dry out bodies causing them to naturally mummify.  The display of mummies including men, women, and children with some of them dressed up in scenes like a baby crying for its "madre" made me physically sick.  This was due to the cultural clash between my English-American background which ultimately greatly fears death, as evidence in Gothic literature, and the Spanish-Mesoamerican Indian hybrid culture of Latin America which accepts death to a greater extent and even mocks it in part.

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