Guatemala diaries: part of the procession in Antigua

180204172That night was so lovely eating in that dining room in Casa Santo Domingo. I think about it the next morning as we go in for breakfast. What a blast we had! Last night these mariachi guys sang to us moving from table to table and made me feel  like giggling. The soup was heavenly and the waiters were dressed in purple while the hostess was dressed like a nun.

The same attires invite us for breakfast and I wonder at the reminders around us of a Catholic country. I feel a little uneasy, not because I am non-Catholic but I would feel equally uneasy with a Hindu religious theme surrounding me in a hotel. Separation of church and hotel is important to me I guess. After all the hoopla for breakfast, we pack our bags and wait for Simba. He comes very late and that is the first strange thing that happens today. “Why so late?” we say together. ” Too much traffic today, they have a big procession in the main square, lots of crowds” he says wearily. Semanas santa, they start their parades long before Easter here.

Simba is like the Nike ad; he just does it and does not say what is going to happen next. Now I wonder, maybe things would have been different that day if I had known we would be walking into crowds, the procession would take so long, etc, etc. But that is just me, Epimethius, worrying after the event. 

“Antigua used to be the capital of Guatemala, but then they had earthquakes and had to move to capital to Gautemala City,” Simba informs us, I can see this city being the jewel of the country with its colonial-style architecture and beautiful cobblestoned streets.

We first walk down the cobblestoned road avoiding the cars and see a black statue holding a cross in a park. “That’s Bethancourt, he was one of the first to start helping the poor. I will show you the famous hospital he started further down.”  We are admiring the streets, the buildings and then he shows us the fountain square. I am struck by the new gas station across from this ancient  european-looking square. No wonder my brother loved Antigua, it is so charming…..the old ruins intermingling with the brightly colored houses, the cobblestones, the sunny weather, the festive atmosphere.

Now we see more and more people and the vendors selling food.”Corvates, corvates!” they yell and I wonder why they are talking bow-ties and then I see them, honey-dipped deep fried batter that looks like bow-ties! Ices, colored candy, little games for children and vendors yelling are all around us.  Soon we see a procession far, far away moving slowly. Simba warns us to be careful with our  purses and I am close to a barred wooden door, looking at the procession. We have finally stopped to watch after seeing rows and rows of beautifully decorated sawdust and vegetable creations on the road. The procession will walk over all this hard work, and that is the creators’ penitence! Of course I get it, I went to a Catholic school and remember the nuns talking about sacrifice and all that. Most religions have this self-effacing part, like the fasts Hindus keep to ‘purify’ themselves.

The procession comes closer, first we see people dressed as Roman soldiers, then the purple -robed Nazarenes, the place is filled with them. They all avoid stepping on the decorations. Finally, the big tableau comes into view, carried by several people, quite a sight.  As the procession walks over the decorations and we are getting to slowly leave, my husband says, “My wallet’s gone!”223227237241

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