Lent and Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala

Lent and Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala smell like incense and corozo, a large native seed pod with a very distinctive odor. It sounds like drums, trumpets, and bird whistles. Devotional activities last from early morning until way after sunset. Here are a few of the things I saw in 2002, when I spent Holy Week and Easter in Antigua.

Dawn - Good FridayEarly in the morning on Good Friday, tourists and pilgrims are in the street, ready to see the pageantry. In the background you see the Volcan de Agua, which still steams from time to time.

All during Lent and Holy Week, there are processions in Antigua. A few are unique:

Holy Week in Guatemala 001These boys are carrying a huge anda, a type of float with a statue of Jesus or a Saint on it. This particular anda shows Jesus carrying the cross:

Holy Week in Guatemala 002This procession is unique because it is one of the only ones in the world where the anda is carried by only women. It is interesting to note that (although I didn’t attend Mass as often as I should have) this event was the only time I ever saw city women wearing head coverings, although in my village it was quite common to wear a scarf or cloth on the head whether or not one was at Mass.

Holy Week in Guatemala 007On the anda is a statue of Mary.

Holy Week in Guatemala 008

In addition to the processions, I saw alfombras, “carpets” made from colored sawdust, grasses and flowers.

Holy Week in Guatemala 003Holy Week in Guatemala 004Holy Week in Guatemala 006 This alfombra, on the Calle del Arco, is the longest one I ever saw, and it wasn’t even finished when I shot this photo.

When the artists make these alfombras, they use planks to keep from spoiling the design.

Holy Week in Guatemala 005When the procession comes through a street where there is an alfombra, the hours of work are completely destroyed as the people walk over the beautiful carpet. But nothing is too much for Our Lord, and everything is temporary in this world.

Rest In Peace, Pa

My paternal grandfather, Norman Taylor, passed away last week. He was born in 1917 and he and my grandmother were married for 72 years! He was a good man, funny, generous, and a good provider. He worked hard and played hard. He enjoyed fishing and spending time with family. He definitely made a positive impact on me, and I think all my family members would say the same.

Norman Taylor on his 84th birthday

We’ll miss you!

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

On this day in 2003

Nine years ago today, this picture was taken

I was visiting my school in Xejuyup for the last time. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cantel, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, where I taught health and hygiene in three rural schools. At Xejuyup, every time I entered the Kindergarten classroom, I was mobbed and group hugged like you see in the photo.

I had arrived in Cantel in March of 2002 after an intense fourteen-week training near Antigua Guatemala. I worked in “my site” for almost two whole school years, since in Guatemala they go to school from January to October – but my second year there was a teachers’ strike so we didn’t go to school until March again.

Normal Peace Corps service is twenty-seven months: three months of training and two years of service. Unfortunately, I was sick a lot, and in October 2003, a few things aligned that made me decide to come home.  My mom needed surgery on her neck and I wanted to be there to help her as she recovered, I was sick again, and the school year was ending. I cut my service a few months short, but it wasn’t short of time to teach, learn, and make new friends.

In the weeks or maybe months ahead, I will share some more of my Peace Corps service and photographs with you. I really enjoyed this time, and I learned so much. I want to share some of what I learned.