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Guatemala: Cucuruchas carry Saints over Alfombras

April 2020

Holy Week Procession

Saints on the street and temporary works of art

In the former Guatemalan capital Antigua, Semana Santa, Easter is celebrated very big. Already from Ash Wednesday, during the Holy Weeks, the 40-day Lent, the city offers the people a special spectacle with colorful "alfombras" (carpets) and the extraordinary processions. Spanish missionaries brought this Catholic tradition to Central America.

Religious figures on huge carved cedar platforms called "andas" are carried through the streets, from up to 50 "cucuruchas" (persons) in purple (the color of penance) gowns dressed. Thick incense and musical sounds announce the procession. Locals and foreign tourists fill the streets to experience this religious event.

Not only the processions are worth seeing, but also the colorfully decorated streets with the long "alfombras". For these procession carpets, residents first spread sand over the cobblestones to level the ground. Then colored sawdust in black, red, yellow, purple, blue and green is then pressed through elaborately designed cardboard stencils. Flowers, plants, vegetables and long pine needles are also used for these temporary works of art.

The production of the carpets often takes hours with several people. The various processional groups then run over them, thereby destroying the works of art. 

A cleaning crew with brooms and shovels, a garbage truck and a small excavator show up at the end of the processions. Then things return to normal.

We were lucky enough to witness processions in two different parts of the city on two weekends after Ash Wednesday. The main event at Easter was then cancelled because of the Corona virus.

procession Antigua

Nomad life stopped!

Since 6 weeks we camp on a spacious, very safe place with water, electricity, internet in Oaxaca and everyday life gets going daily grind. Online orders from the supermarket, baker and butcher are delivered to the site. Even vegetable and fruit retailer appear 2x at the place.

The current situation in Mexico is difficult to find out. It is impossible to estimate whether the situation will get worse in the next few weeks, that we have to fear unrest. We hope that this will not happen.
It is tragic that here in Mexico physicians and nursing staff in certain hospitals have to be protected by the national guard against attacks from the population.

We do have different plans for the time after the Corona. Time will tell.
Fortunately, we have no symptoms of illness and are doing fine. Togetherness in the narrowest space - we're used to it.

For the next 2 months we still have enough photo material in our quiver.
Virtual travel is not contagious as far as Corona is concerned. Stay healthy!