13/04/2014/12:04 am, Antigua, Guatemala
There are so many pictures - I will try to get some in the gallery soon. But here's one of the most beautiful of the gorgeous carpets we saw today, Palm Sunday. It was outside La Merced Church. The hermandad members there must be some of the best in the city.
Another posting coming soon on the Palm Sunday procession, but now I have to go to bed. It is 10 pm in Guatemala city and we have to be up at 3:30 to catch our 6 am flight.
12/04/2014/11:50 pm, Antigua, Guatemala
On our walk to town this morning, we wondered if Juan, the ceviche man, would be on his corner. Sure enough, we spotted his stand, and for once, it was before he spotted us!
As I walked over and called out, "Buenos Dias, Juan!" he looked up from his work, his face lit up and with his trademark enthusiasm, he gave me a big hug and greeted Jim with a high five. This lovely man stands less than 5 feet tall and is packed with warmth and goodness from the tips of his toes to the top of his head. He has five children, two boys still at home, was once a teacher but it was hard to find work and he has been operating this ceviche stand for 12 years. His "place of business" is a stand at the corner of the Camino de San Juan del Obispo just outside El Calvario church, and when we were here in November, I walked past him every day on my way home from yoga. We got into the habit of chatting regularly and he always said Jim and I were his amigos. I think perhaps he has many many amigos because he waves to every second car that passes, and people call out, "Hola, Juan" again and again.
Today, we took it a step farther and after sitting on the stools chatting for a bit, we decided to order a bowl of ceviche. It is always a somewhat risky thing to eat raw food on the street - I will usually opt for something cooked - but Juan's stand looked clean and he is savvy enough to know he doesn't want his amigos to get sick. I can't tell you how excited he was to be sharing his food with us. He diced tomatoes on his board and added chopped onion, camarones, caracol, a spoonful of green stuff - maybe culantro? a squirt of red stuff, a squeeze of lime and a dash of hot sauce, poured it all into a bowl, added a couple of packs of crackers and handed it over with a flourish. We sat on our stools and ate in the shade and it was good.
Jim took our picture - we exchanged addresses so we can send him a copy - and we went happily on our way to see the Semana Santa festivities, while he started chopping again for his next two customers. It was one more reminder to me that no matter how exotic or beautiful the surroundings are, no matter how adventurous the journey is, those little moments shared with the people we meet transcend all boundaries and fill us with joy. As we sat on his stools by the side of the road, we were true amigos - nothing more and nothing less, and it was enough.
11/04/2014/11:47 pm, Antigua, Guatemala
We positioned ourselves outside San Jose Catedral on the parque to watch the preparations for the children's procession. We saw young girls fixing each other's scarves, mothers pinning lacy headdresses on their daughters. We watched boys clustered around the steps as they waited, pulling on their gloves and adjusting their hoods. We saw tiny children and teenagers - some with sunglasses and cell phones - some with their parents and some with peers. Amazingly, I didn't see a single child crying or racing around, and if there was any whining, they were quiet about it.
As 3 o'clock arrived, the first wave of children accompanied by their parents came down the steps and turned north. There were hundreds of them! Big ones - little ones - some taking turns to carry the floats and some walking solemnly along the route. The boys were dressed in purple robes and hoods, and the girls wore white dresses and head coverings. All wore white gloves.
Just like the adults, the carriers were given cards that told on which section of the route they would be carrying the float and what their position would be. First came the boys - 44 of them - carrying Jesus Nazareno del Desamparo, followed by a band, and then by 24 girls carrying the Virgen de Dolores, and another band. They had to pay close attention to what they were doing - keeping in step, sharing the weight of the float on their shoulders.
As they passed, we turned back toward the square to see what had become of the carpets we watched being constructed earlier in the day. There was nothing left but a muddy pile of sawdust being gathered up by men with shovels. But on the walk home, we came across more people creating more carpets for more processions