Friday, April 06, 2007

Semana Santa

So it turns out that Semana Santa (Easter week) is a big deal here in Quetzaltenango. All the businesses close down mid-week and everybody heads to the central plaza. Artisans make murals out of dyed sawdust on the street.

There are many processions through the city. These parades have a stronger ceremonial feel than their North American counterparts, such as a 4th of July or Macy´s Thanksgiving Day parade. I suspect it has something to do with the religious element. I thought about asking the people standing next to me to explain what was going on, but that ugly Jews-killed-Jesus business always seems to come up this time of year. I kept my big mouth shut.
My observations: the processions are dominated by the purple-robed people. The elders line the crowd and clear the way for the statue-bearers. The statue bearers are younger purple people, charged with lugging the heavy statues of Jesus et. al. through the streets. White-clad incense bearers scuttle back and forth between statue bearers.

Then come the girls in bridal veils. In the procession this morning, the girls carried a sign that said "virgins." The virgins were followed by the buff statue-bearing ladies (not pictured). The band brings up the rear, playing somber religious numbers.
I thought the general tone was somber, but most of my fellow on-lookers appeared to be in high spirits. Ice cream was the most popular snack this morning. Last night there was a lot of elote-eating (corn-on-the-cob), which is served dripping with mayonnaise, ketchup, and hot-sauce. I scarfed down a few pupusas. Pupusas are corn tortillas filled with cheese, beans, and/or pig, with cabbage salad and spicy sauce on top.
They are a staple in El Salvador, but popular here in Guatemala too.

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