Dem Bones

Cuenca, Ecuador

John and I are “go” people. Whether it’s hiking in a jungle, climbing an ancient pyramid or jogging along a roaring river, we love discovering new places, as well as meeting new people. We’re outdoor adventure junkies. So before coming to Ecuador, we did our homework on the really cool places around Cuenca. It’s our first time south of the equator, and while our friends and families are sweltering with summer heat in Texas, it’s winter time down here! It’s the first time, ever, that I can remember wearing heavy wool socks and jackets in June!  Go figure!

We knew that Cuenca is a huge area for ex-pats, because of the climate. Although, on the peaks of some of the Andes that surround us, I’m pretty sure that it snows. But here, the coldest it ever gets is in the 50s (Fahrenheit). We knew it would be a little chilly and we came prepared. 

What we weren’t ready for was the rain! During the last five months we spent in Mexico, it rained for only 20 minutes, the whole time we were there!!! Here, the past few weeks, not only has it been raining cats and dogs, but, I think I saw a few llamas and alpacas during the heaviest storms. Now, we know that in order to have the rich, lush environment we’re experiencing here in Cuenca, it requires a lot of moisture from the sky. We “get” it. But, since we’re on foot here, it really has hampered our adventure agenda. 

“Rain, rain, go away. John and Anel want to play…”

So, even though John’s been called salty and I’m incredibly sweet (or is it the other way around?), last week we decided that we’re probably not going to melt if we get caught in a South American deluge. But, just in case, we started looking for a few indoor adventures, and, being semi nerds, we started checking out what Cuenca has to offer in the way of museums. We struck gold when we discovered the Museo del Esquetelogia (Skeleton Museum).

The museum is the brainchild of Dr. Gabriel Espinosa Moscoso, a prominent early twentieth century, Ecuadorian, scientist. You know how some people collect stuff? Rod Stewart collects model trains, while Tom Hanks has antique typewritersJay Leno has his priceless cars and Quentin Tarantino collects TV Show-themed game boards.  My mother had oodles of antique pitchers, my dad collected stamps, and I had comic strip bobble heads before we sold out to travel the world. Well, Dr. Moscoso collected South American skeletons. Lots and lots of bones. The museum houses his wonderful collection.

The skeletons range in size, with the largest being an African baby elephant (the only non-Ecuadorian display) to a teeny-tiny bird, the Andean wren

The coolest thing, about the museum, is that the animals are displayed in their natural positions. A sloth hangs upside down in a tree. A monkey dangles from a limb and a horse is displayed in full gallop.

One diorama has a seated human skeleton surrounded by a cat, dog, chicken, turkey and duck.

Another display features a series of human skulls ranging in ages from 6-months to 42 years old, which is a great visual of how human skulls develop and change over time. Hamlet and the pirates on board the Jolly Roger would have loved this one!

If you’ve ever put together a jigsaw puzzle with over 1000 pieces, you appreciate the time and detailed attention that Dr. Moscoso devoted to this project. Unfortunately, for years the  museum fell into disrepair and was rarely open. But now it is run by Moscoso’s great-granddaughter and truly is a gift of love to heighten public awareness of our environment and the creatures that inhabit it.

Museo del Esquetelogia is not a Smithsonian or even a Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum. It’s more of a “bare bones” kind of place. It fascinated us and even tickled our “funny” bones. We loved it. We are so glad we came in out of the rain and found this intriguing jewel of a place. And, if it takes getting soaked to the “bone” for us to find intriguing places like this, then let it pour! 

Bring it on! We’re loving Ecuador!

Info about Museo del Esquetelogia:

Location: Simon Bolívar 6-75 y Presidente Borrero. 

Hours: Monday to Friday: 10 am to 1:30 pm. 

Admission: $2. 

Tel: 7-282-1150

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