Antigua, Guatemala Holy Week, Pt 2
As we mentioned in the previous post, our travel photography trip to Antigua, Guatemala for our 2018 Holy Week photo tour was an overwhelming success. We were totally captivated by the city, the friendliness of the people and the stunning spectacle that is Semana Santa. While the Good Friday processions were the longest and most significant of the lenten season, there are a few processions on Holy Saturday that are equally important and solemn. These resemble funeral marches with all the participants wearing black. The evening procession that passes through the closed streets under the Arch of Santa Carolina takes on a mystical feel with the black-clad faithful passing through the thick clouds of smoke coming from the swinging incense burners.
We chose to rise early on Easter morning and take a private van to the mountain town of Chichicastenango, (known as Chichi) a few hours from Antigua. We arrived in time to observe the mass in Iglesia de Santo Tomas, which stands on the edge of one of the largest markets in Central America. As you can see, even the steps of the church are used for selling flowers and candles. After a bit of shopping and breakfast, we passed through the vegetable market and marveled at the beautiful produce from the surrounding countryside.
It was just about 10:00 that the Easter mass was finished and the members of the decidedly more Mayan than catholic congregation exit the church with small floats, firing off extremely loud fireworks from the church steps (three weeks later my ears are still ringing!) and proceeding through the crowded Sunday market streets.
The procession was so different from Antigua’s elaborate, large, stately floats and the intricately-designed alfombras (flower or sawdust carpets). It lacked the costuming and organization of Antigua’s processions. However, in many ways, it felt special and we were very glad to be a part of it.
After the procession we walked a few blocks through the hilly streets of the town to the colorful cemetery with it’s small crypts and mausoleums crowded among a hillside. While we observed a few Mayan cleansing ceremonies being held for families, we kept a respectful distance and didn’t photograph the private and somber moments on this holy day.
Hope you enjoyed seeing a few more photos from Guatemala. Stay tuned for the next blog post from Lake Atitlan.