Archive for April 20th, 2009
Picking the bones out in Santa Cruz

Old, crusty and falling apart, the Guanche mummies bore a striking resemblance to how I look after a night on the Dorada. They are undoubtably the stars of the Museo de la Naturaleza Y El Hombre (museum of nature and man) in Santa Cruz.

A 111 Titsa bus had whisked me to the capital from Los Cristianos in an hour with just 4.45 euros damage to my bono ticket. Heading along the front, it’s just a couple of minutes to the  Barranco de Santos, just look for the bridges over the old ravine, and the large imposing museum. Being Sunday, entrance to the museum was FREE, but it’s hardly expensive normally at 3 euros for adults or 1.50 students and children. If you pay with your bono bus ticket, you get a 50% discount as well, a bonus common to all the main museums in the area.

The museum was opened in 2002 and is bright, airy and spacious inside, built around 2 courtyards it covers 3 floors and has a shop and cafeteria. Starting on the ground floor, I learned about the formation and history of the Canary Islands, there were information sheets to pick up, in English, German and Spanish, plus there is a headphone service that gives commentary on all exhibits, again in a choice of languages.

This is a visually pleasing setting, giant video walls, and interactive work stations are to the fore and the displays are well set out. Moving up through the layers of this historical chocolate box, rocks, fossils, plants and animals all added their testimony to the development of the islands.

The Guanches date back to between 100 and 1000 BC, and were the aboriginal founders of life in the Canary Islands. The mummies were discovered mainly in La Orotava, and have their own alcove on the second floor. I found them fascinating but not macabre, but felt a chill of unease at the mummies of young children, their internal organs and even a foetus.Â

Educated and stimulated, I left the museum after 2 leisurely hours, I could easily have lingered longer. Opening times are daily from 9 am to 7 pm but closed on Mondays, roll up and delve into the rich past of the Canary Islands.