Steve having morning coffee at the Yik Cafe
The Amber Museum is located on the top level of the former Convent de la Merced. The Spanish Friars settled in San Cristobal in 1624, and began construction on the Convent in 1736 completing the task in 1774 (so it’s pretty darn old—yes, older than me). I am going to purchase a piece of amber to wear with my jade Kuan Yin (Buddhist Saint of Mercy and Compassion) pendant from Myanmar (Burma).
Amber is not a gem stone, but rather fossilized resin from pine trees. Chiapas, Mexico ranks number three in the world for Amber, right behind the Baltic Sea area and the Dominican Republic. Amber can be found in many color variations including: Green, yellow, red, blue, pink and hues of brown and orange. Many people around the world believe that Amber possesses magical powers—in Mexico it is dangerous to touch someone else’s Amber; it is a very personal thing. Ever since I read and watched Jurassic Park I’ve wanted a piece of Amber with an insect (preferably a mosquito) embedded in it (Amber con insecto). Remember how they extracted dinosaur DNA from the mosquitos found in Amber? It just seems really cool to me to wear a piece of jewelry containing an intact insect over 25,000,000 years old. Maybe I’m just weird. Anyway, Arturo & Erika are going to take me to a local jeweler in town tomorrow morning that sells ‘authentic’ Amber (there is a lot of fake Amber down here, so it’s Caveat emptor—buyer beware).
After breakfast, courtesy of our hostess Erika, we headed down the hill to Yik Cafe for a couple of cups of Cafe con Leche. Then we strolled over to the Museo de Amber and the former Convent de la Merced. A ticket for $20 MXN (about $1.50 USD) allowed us admission to both. The Museo de Amber was fascinating and we saw many beautiful examples of the different types. Again, the most interesting to me were the specimens containing insectos (mosquitoes and small flies). Many specimens had magnifying glasses or microscopes setup so you could really see the little creatures entombed in the pine resin. I’m really excited about purchasing my own little piece of fossilized history. And ever since by bout with Dengue Fever last year I feel a certain affinity with the lowly mosquito.
The Convent is beautiful. It’s been fully restored and is home to the Museo de Amber and other exhibits. We spent a leisurely hour strolling the grounds, visiting the museum and viewing the other exhibits—all for just $1.50 USD. The Mexican people take their culture seriously, and make it very affordable for anyone to visit these cultural sites. Before I left San Diego I visited Balboa Park many times, but only when they offered Resident Free Admission Day. The cost of going to the various museums just became prohibitive. The Mexican people do it right—as they do so often. They take great pride in their heritage, arts and culture. Viva la Mexico.