Monday, April 28, 2008

Semana Santa in Guatemala

I thought it fitting to write a post on Semana Santa (Easter Week), one of the biggest celebrations in Latin America, which just finished today.
I was in Xela for most of Semana Santa, which was a great place to be because there are very few tourists and very many religious nutters...
As the name suggests, the celebrations go on for a whole week, with most workers getting a part of the week off to join in or watch the religious processions. The processions are endless, with each church in the city parading around the town centre dressed in purple robes and carrying giant religious floats. On Easter Friday a crucifixion is acted out (and in some places, even goes as far as putting nails through the hands of the day´s ¨Jesus¨).I even hear that in some places a prisoner is used and pardoned after the crucifixion. My favourite part, of course, were the food stalls, which were endless and delicious. My addiction to Guatemalan hot dogs grew by the day- they are ordinary hot dogs, without cheese but with mayonaise and a hot green sauce.
I arrived back in Mexico yesterday, in San Cristobal de las Casas in the Chiapas region. It´s a really beautiful city with cobbled streets and quite an alternative feel to it. The only downside is that its bloody freezing!
Today I took a day trip into the surrounding villages, which have retained many ancient Mayan customs. It was one of the more surreal experiences of my life, beginning with the village church. The ground is covered in pine needles, and there are flowers and candles everywhere. I saw a Mayan family in front of me sacrifice a chicken, spit water over everyone, blow a musical horn on a child´s head, and, most bizarely, drink rum and coke to burp out the evil spirits. I kid you not. I have been assured that this is quite common, and from what I saw it justifies a lot of alcoholism! Unfortunately photography is banned, so I don´t have any photos of my experience.
I had heard that it was possible to visit and interview some Zapatistas, but after many taxis to the wrong place later, I finally gave up. I did manage to buy a guerilla doll though, complete with black clothing, a balaclava and a big gun, so I guess that will have to be my only political souvenier of the trip...
I have one more day in San Cristobal and then tommorrow I´m taking the night bus to Puerto Escondido on the Oaxaca coast.
I have update my Flickr account, so I have more photos on there (
Hasta luego

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