Mexico and Beyond

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Ladies and Corpses

Aron Covaliu

GUANAJUATO, Mexico - If you ever visit this beautiful Mexican Colonial city, you might be approached by some silver-tongued salesman who will try to convince you that, whatever you do, you simply can’t miss a visit to the Ex Hacienda del Cochero, a place just outside of town where they set up a museum of torture with alleged medieval devices. When I received the suggestion I thought it sounded like a potentially interesting activity, as it didn’t figure on my map of attractions and was more or less far from the (God forbid) tourist spots, but in the end it was rather not. The tour - which lasted about 10 minutes - was quite dull, and the place was more like a spooky house at a town fair. There was one valuable thing I did learn in my visit, however: that in the 1920s, the editor of some newspaper came up with a marketing campaign to attract tourists that consisted in portraying high-society ladies posing elegantly alongside some of the unearthed mummified bodies that made Guanajuato famous. The result a was a grotesque collection of colored black and white photographs which showed pretty girls standing and sitting next to corpses while trying not to vomit, now very casually displayed on the last stretch before the exit. One of them showed some text under the image of a girl in a red dress who, seated, was hugging a woman-mummy that stood with her arms crossed over her chest, as if coyly covering herself from the viewer's gaze; all under a thick foliage of bougainvillea. It read:

LIFE AND DEATH

 

Miss Magdalena Moreno, a beautiful

girl from Guanajuato, in a "pose"

of courage and study for "Tricolor".

She was photographed with a well preserved

mummy from the valuable necrology museum of

Guanajuato, in exciting contrast.

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