Monday, April 23, 2012

Antigua, Guatemala

Welcome to Antigua, Guatemala

I left the lake with the biggest smile on my face. It had been a great couple of days, kayaking, eating, hiking, and exploring, but we now we were off to Antigua.

2 hour bus ride through the windy mountains... no big deal. It is called the Dramamine coma. ;)

We get to Antigua and shocker we are about 10 blocks from the hostel. What's another long walk with a 50 pound bag on your back?!? So our hostel was pretty decent. It was a little small, 2 bunk beds and a single bed, 5 girls and barely enough room for ourselves and our bags, but we were in Antigua. There is not complaining on vacation!!

First order of business, explore the town.

As we walked around, we were greeted with our first parade and so much more.

The men, who are a part of a brotherhood in the church, wear purple robes. These brotherhoods carry the floats and participate in these processions as a part of penance for their sins. 

Part of the parade. The only people allowed to walk over the alfombras are the men carrying the float. As you can see this group will walk around the alfombras.

More of the parade.

This is one of the many Alfombras "carpets". They are made as vigils of mourning for Jesus.
They are made with flowers, sand, sawdust and fruits and vegetables. 

Another alfombra, made of colored sawdust.  The man in the middle is standing on a 2x4 to lay down more sawdust. 

Kristin and I enjoying the making of the alfombras. 

Next, we went to the market. So many amazing things!

Beautifully crafted dolls of Jesus in the market.

Masks in the market.

More interesting dolls in the market.

Lori, Kristin, Colleen and I sitting on the side of the road waiting for a procession.

A boy putting sawdust down for an alfombra.

Delicious mangos on a stick. 

A boy selling foam animals on the street. 

A woman selling bouncing balls walks through the flooded streets of Antigua.

Traditional Guatemalan women selling scarves on the street. 

After a full day of walking around and exploring the many things in Antigua. We headed to dinner. I can't say I was put into a food coma like I was in Lake Atitlan, but we did enjoy some delicious food. 

Day 2: Shocker we did more exploring. 

Kristin and I in central park with the beautiful church in the background. 

This is part of a church. It was magnificent with a circular ceiling that was open. 

Inside the church, this is the float that will be carried through the streets of Antigua. It weighs close to 8,000 lbs and will be carried by the men of the brotherhood. 

The Virgin Mary

An offering to Mary. It was completely made of fruits and vegetables.

A similar offering to Jesus made of fruits and vegetables. 

After exploring a bit, Kristin and I happened to stumble across a church that had a tone of people outside of it. So we decided to go in and see what was going on. The church was packed with people and before we knew the church went completely silent. A woman came on the loud speaker and started to pray. The entire church knew the prayer and was saying it all together. It was pretty moving to listen to, especially in Spanish.  When they finished their was a reinactment of pulling Jesus' body from the cross with the white sheet. I have never experienced such a moving moment. This entire church was packed with people and not a sound was made. 

It is difficult to see, but below the yellow sun, is the manequin of Jesus. Two men climbed the ladder leaning against the cross to pull his body off the cross. As you can see there were a lot of people taking video and pictures of this moment. 

Kristin and I were so happy to have experienced that moment. So we headed back to the hostel to catch our other friends and head to dinner. 

Day 3: Good Friday. This is the most important day to Catholics in Guatemala. This day was filled with lots of processions carrying the body of Jesus. 

The beginning of the procession starts with men of the brotherhood carrying mental tins of burning incense. It can be overwhelming at times and hard to breathe. 

This float bares the body of Jesus and is carried by the brotherhood. They are wearing black to signify mourning.

This is another procession carrying the body of Jesus with Agua Volcano in the background. 

Kristin and I near central park. 

It is hard to see, but Kristin, Jenna, Lori and I are all together finally!

Obviously happy to be in ANTIGUA!!! 

The afternoon continued with more processions. But my friend Magdiel, Kristin and I decided to explore this beautiful hotel that used to be a convent. 

A fountain and crosses in the hotel.

Kristin and I in front of the fountain.

They have a church inside the property of the hotel. It had a service going on as I took the picure...opps!

This beautiful walkway had flowers hanging down from the ceiling. 

And then we felt Prom inspired. But who are we kidding, we might have been a few margaritas deep. ;)

After dinner we headed to Central Park to see the biggest procession of the week. This is a prestigious time slot for a Church to have their procession because it leads to the central park on the eve of Good Friday. The park was packed with people to watch the last procession carrying Jesus' body.

A very large group of the brotherhood carrying an extremely heavy float. They are headed to Central Park for the final procession of Good Friday. 

Central Park and the last procession with Jesus' body.

Day 4 Mary's day of mourning. This day was all about the women. The women wore black and carried the floats with replicas of Mary in mourning.

Women wearing black walked along the streets to pay tribute to a mother mourning her child.

This brotherhood of women is carrying the float of Mary mourning.

I honestly didn't think I could be so "Wowed" by an event in my lifetime (yes I am only 28) but  this one takes the cake. I am more than unbelievably grateful to have gone and experienced all the different floats and processions. I got to see groups of people celebrate a life and death that has impacted so many. It was nice to see a sense of community, even though the city was flooded with tourists. It was amazing!!

Day 5... head back to Gracias. : (

Street cleaners picking up the last of the trash 5 a.m Easter Sunday. 

We are a sad bunch waiting for the bus. Good-bye Antigua, hope to see you again soon. 

1 comment:

  1. Great , great pictures Kate. Well done entry. Keep 'em coming!