Sunday, April 12, 2009
Semana Santa (Holy Week)
Wow, It has been a busy few days. We left Thursday morning for Antigua (the old colonial Capital that was destroyed in a massive earth quake) It is a beautiful colonial city that attracts tons of visitors from around the world). Antigua is particularly famous for its Semana Santa festivities. They go all out during this Holiday. It is by far the biggest holiday of the year even bigger then Christmas. The Catholic Church holds religious processions everyday of Semana Santa and multiple processions at the end of the week especially Friday (cruxifiction day). These processions portray the life of Christ with a focus on his final days. They are performed by hundreds and some times thousands of people. A big part of the processions is a personal sacrifice by the people in which they carry they floats in the processions for hours. Well non of this really set Antigua apart from most Latin American Semana Santa Processions. But what does set Antigua apart is that the people of the town take hours and hours decorating the streets in with colorful art works. Well this is also a sacrifice because the processions goes over top these beautiful art works. The remains get quickly swept up by street sweepers after the procession goes by and the people begin the decorated the street again. This process repeats itself throughout the week. And multiple times during Friday. The individual neighborhoods take great pride in demonstrating the best art work and try at all cost to out do their neighboring streets.
We spent Thursday evening there and most of the day Friday. It is one of the things that has been on my list of thing s to do in Guatemala for along time. We also were invited to stay with a friend that I met at the Mexican border. His name is Horacio and lives with his wife and 2 kids in a town next to Antigua. It is virtually impossible to get a hotel during Semana Santa. So that worked out great. Now you may be asking yourself who meets somebody on the road and then invites them and their wife and 4 kids to stay with them. Not to mention give them their own bed and feed them. But this is the Latino way or at least the Guatemalan way. These people are so open and giving. They are truly amazing. Horacio's mom has quite a story. She is from the the Indian tribe Cachei'quiel. And at a early age she learned from her mother to make Indian clothing on a loom. The average piece of clothing take 4-6 months to make. She made her 1st piece that she sold at 12 yrs old and by the age of 16 had her own business. She became very famious in Guatemala for her ability to loom. The government started to ask her to display her abilities throughout the US and Asia. She then began to sell her pieces worldwide. 15 yrs ago she founded a Museum in Antigua demonstrating the Indian textilesm all 26 Guatemalan Indian tribes. She gave us a free tour of the museum and invited us to eat breakfast at her home that overlooks here town the next morning. She comes from a tribe of people that typically never leave their town and never make more than $3000 a yr. What an amazing woman. We can all make a difference in this life. She is a testimony of this very fact.
Saturday we invited Temio and his family to go somewhere with us. They have very little money and even though they live 45 minutes from the Caribbean his kids had never had the opportunity to go to the beach. This is another Guatemalan tradition to do on Saturday of Semana Santa. So we said lets go. They have 4 kids so the 12 of us piled in the Suburban (no seat belt laws here) and went. We drove to a port close by Santo Tomas and then had to take a dirt raod for and hr across a mountain range to the Caribbean.
I have to take over from here for Nathan because he has to leave to go to Guatemala City tonight to take care of business tomorrow.
We had alot of fun with Tamio's family at the beach. I would like to go back when it is not semana Santa because in Guatemala everything is a business opportunity so not only were the beaches loaded with people but vendors were set up on every inch of the beach all the way down to the water.
We went to church today and met the members of the ward. It was nice to go and feel the spirit. I didn't understand much but the spirit was strong. Each of the kids met friends that speak English and the Relief Society President knows English but is scared to speak it so I speak to her in English and she speaks to me in Spanish and we get by a little. The kids and I are still very motivated to learn Spanish.
I took over 100 pictures this weekend so I will have to post as many as I can. It takes a long time with our slow internet to post pictures so I will do my best to get as many up on this post as I can. Obviously not all of them.
We love and miss you all and hope you have had a fantastic Easter Sunday in remembrance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who died for us. I am truly grateful for this.
Mel and Nate