If there is a place to be for Easter in Central America it has to be Antigua Guatemala as it is renowned for its celebrations, so although we knew it would be difficult to get a room and the prices were going to be very high we decided that we had to be there to see what goes on. We managed to book a room for Tuesday 19/4/2011 and the Wednesday in the hotel we stayed in when we last came to Antigua, but they were full for the Thursday and Friday. They had a huge car park, which was ideal for Nancy, and we negotiated to camp in the end of it for Thursday and Friday. We managed to cook, both on the window cill of the room. and at the end of the car park. There are 2 bits that make up the celebrations. The processions and the rugs. The processions are made of huge floats that are carried by men, women and children. There is a float with Jesus on it carried by the males, followed by a float with the Virgin Mary on it carried by the females. On Wednesday it was the Children’s procession. On Thursday it was the procession de Jesũs Nazareno del Pedón given by the San Francisco el Grande Church. On Friday The procession de Jesũs Nazareno ( La Penitencia) given by La Merced (this float takes 80 men to carry and weighs about 3 tons) which started at 0400 and went on for 12 hours and in the afternoon The procession del Señor Sepultudo given by San José Cathedral. complete with head gear that was copied by the Klu klux Clan. The first thing you know a procession is coming is the centurions followed by the followers who keep the way clear and then the haze of incense. The floats appear and then the sellers and clear up lorries. The longest procession went on from 1300 until 0600 the next day. But for me the most amazing thing are the rugs. They are made by the residents and business people outside their homes and businesses. They are made either from saw dust, flowers, wood chip, pine needles, or a mixture Thursday night it rained very hard and there was some rugs that were washed out leaving standing water in the middle of the street. The rugs are laid out, some taking many hours, The procession then walks over it, they swept it up, and dump it in the back of a lorry. Here are some more:-
(anybody interested in the 500 odd other pictures I took of the rugs please contact me!) If this has inspired you to close the road outside your house this is now you do it. Make a base,
put on base colour, lay on your stencils, colour in and then remove the stencil, Voilà, Keep going until you have finished.
The visual effect of all this was stunning but we were also left with a deep feeling of devotion from those people taking part. I would not class myself as a Christian per se, as to me Christianity has caused far too many wars and other atrocities in it's name. but I do count myself as someone who is interested in spiritual things, and this part of me was very moved. I do find it interest that everything is made of the crucifixion and very little is celebrated around the resurrection. Keeps you feeling guilty I suppose. If the 'second coming' is anything like the stories of the first I wonder if we will be open enough to hear the message or will we lock up the messenger as being mad? After all we should lay our riches up in heaven not on this earth. Thank you Antigua and all those that took part for a moving experience.
There is free camping in Antigua at the Assitencia al Turista on Calle de la Sangre de Cristo just west of Calzada Santa Lucia. It's a large site with cold showers and wifi albeit a bit grubby. We opted to pay for our car part camping for convenience and were glad we did as it rained hard each night.