On my several trips to Guanajuato, Mexico, one of our favorite excursions was a trip to the Mummy Museum - which is also one of Mexico's top tourist sites. The dead are real and in a culture that celebrates Dios de los Meurtos, these are reminders that life and death are but a breath apart.
I've been pulling my Day of the Dead collection from storage and realized we're not yet to All Soul's/All Saint's Day even with all the Halloween decorations out in the stores. I've just been putting fall harvest decorations up as my red chile ristras hang drying on the portal.
When tourists visit the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe, they don't see mummies, but they are, if they aren't from here, fascinated by Alexander Girard's collection of Day of the Dead trinkets/folk art. This exhibit is just past the one on heaven and hell. The descanos -- the crosses at the roadsides marking the place of death and seen all over the Southwest now -- hold spiritual meaning for those from Latin America. They mark the sacred place of crossing over, they are.
The smallest mummified fetus, right, is from that museum and was one of the top email photos of the year on Yahoo! and a Reuters PICTURE OF THE YEAR. The Guanajuato mummies were discovered in a cemetery in Guanajuato, northwest of Mexico City. They are accidental modern mummies and were literally "dug up" between 1896 and 1958 in order to make room for more recent burials. This photo is one everyone finds intriguing because in our anglo-dominated culture, we stuff death away and don't put it on view, discuss it, celebrate it or live with it.
REUTERS/Henry Romero (MEXICO)