Peter and Terry's Adventures
23rd Feb 2012 - 29th Feb 2012
First Sunday in Lent
Our time in Guatemala has ended, and we are now in St. Croix. We will not be updating the blog for a while. The last few days were spent playing bridge (again) and preparing for departure.
Wednesday, Feb 22 was Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Here in Antigua, it is a BIG DEAL, and every Sunday during Lent there are processions in the streets. The frequency increases as Easter nears. For Semana Santa (Holy Week) the town fills with pilgrims and tourists to watch the processions and participate in the marches.
On the first Sunday (just before we left) we went out to bruch at a coffee finca with some friends. On the way there some roads were blocked as people prepared the colourful "carpets" called alfombras in the streets. On the return from brunch we stopped and looked at the progress. The alfombras are composed of pine needles or coloured sawdust as the base, and then adorned with flowers. The people who live along the street usually are the ones to create the alfombras, so it becomes something of a neighbourhood party.
The procession route entered the city at the south east corner, wound around the town, did a circuit of the central square and then exited at the south east corner, returning to the church that was responsible for the procession. From our house we could hear the band coming and rushed over a couple of blocks to watch. The pictures tell the story very well. The guards lead the procession, and then the purple robed pilgrims carry a huge float consisting of statues, a Christ figure, other saints and flowers. There are about 30 bearers on each side, and from time to time they swap out for new bearers. Each position has a number, and the pilgrims are given numbers according to their heights to even the load. After the main float came the Virgin Mary float, carried this time by women clothed in black. Following up the rear are the saints of the particular church.
The floats are tall enough to interfere with power and telephone lines, so there are a few people with long poles to lift the lines to let the statues pass safely. Shelley said that indeed they had lost power for a while after one procession passed!
Now, remember the alfombras? Well, they get destroyed when the procession passes over them, and the sweepers collect the debris, shovel it into a back hoe, and it is then dumped into a truck. Once this is done, only a few bits of debris remain, and the cobblestones are moist with the water that kept the alfombra fresh until the procession arrived.
Sunday late we finished packing and left at 4:00 am on Monday for the airport and our flight to St. Croix, where we were met by Joe. We will be here until March 15, when we return to Nova Scotia.
|557 Words | This page has been read 8 times||View Printable Version|