Semana Santa Begins in Antigua

On Thursday morning I am going to Antigua to celebrate the Easter weekend. I have had my hotel reservations since the end of October.

I found a magazine that gives an outline of what happens during the Processions. I am writing it here so I will always have the information.

Statue -usually a life sized religious statue displayed in a church, sometimes year round and sometimes just during the processions.Usual figures include Jesus carrying the cross or lying in a glass coffin, the Virgin Mary, St. John and Mary Magdalene. Many of these statues were made during the Spanish colonial period and can date back as far as the mid 17th century.

Velación- a display of a parish's statues in front of or near the main altar of the church. Usually there is a backdrop and a biblical or allegorical scene created using the image of Jesus, other religious statues and additional props. In recent years many of these have become more elaborate incorporating soundtracks and timed lighting displays.

Huerto- many times at the foot of the display of the image and diorama created for the velación is a vibrant handmade alf ombré made of brightly dyed sawdust, edged by a garden, made up of a combination of flowers, fruit,vegetables, bread, candles and other colorful items.

Procesión- each procession follows a planned route from the parish church through the city returning to the church up to 12 hours later. Processions generally begin with men dressed as Roman Centurions leading the way, followed by by incense carriers and banner carriers. Behind them comes the central attraction of the procession the anda bearing the parish's statue of Jesus set among lavish decoration. This is followed by a professional ban d playing funeral dirges.

Anda – a large and very heavy sodden platform, usually lavishly decorated which has as it's centerpiece the parish's statue of Jesus. The anda is carried on the shoulders of the penitents. Some andas weigh up to 7,000 pounds (4,150 kg) and require up to 100 (50 per side) cucuruchos (penitents) to carry.

Alfombra - elaborate and artistic carpets made of brightly colored sawdust or wood shavings, along with pine needles, flowers and even fruit and vegetables are constructed along the route during the hours beforehand. The alfombras are made by residents along the route of the procession who invite friends and family to help with the construction. As the procession passes over the alfombras is is destroyed by the shuffling feet of the cucuruchos leaving nothing but a pile of debris which is quickly cleaned up by the. I I ipad. Leaning crews following the processions.

Cucuruchos -the anda is carried on the shoulders of the cucuruchos who wear purple full length tunics I the processions until 3:00 PM on Good Friday, then they change to black after that. Each cucurucho carries the anda for specific distance and then a new group takes over. The members of each turn are determined by height to ensure the anda is level and balanced.

Cargdora/Dolorosa – both terms are used for the women and or older girls who carry a smaller anda with an image of the Virgin Mary. They follow the main anda and the funeral band. They also take turns throughout. The women wear black skirts or dresses and a mantilla usually of lace.

Well, that is the basic outline of what has been happening each week during Lent and everyday since Semana Santa began. On Thursday there will be three main processions and then Good Friday there will be many starting at midnight and going all day until midnight and it becomes Saturday. Then more on Saturday and one or two on Easter Sunday afternoon.

I am really looking forward to this experience even though I know the crowds will be horrendous.

More later as I actually get there.

 

SEMANA SANTA ARRIVES AND ANTIGUA

On Thursday morning I am going to Antigua to celebrate the Easter weekend. I have had my hotel reservations since the end of October.

I found a magazine that gives an outline of what happens during the Processions. I am writing it here so I will always have the information.

Statue -usually a life sized religious statue displayed in a church, sometimes year round and sometimes just during the processions.Usual figures include Jesus carrying the cross or lying in a glass coffin, the Virgin Mary, St. John and Mary Magdalene. Many of these statues were made during the Spanish colonial period and can date back as far as the mid 17th century.

Velación- a display of a parish’s statues in front of or near the main altar of the church. Usually there is a backdrop and a biblical or allegorical scene created using the image of Jesus, other religious statues and additional props. In recent years many of these have become more elaborate incorporating soundtracks and timed lighting displays.

Huerto- many times at the foot of the display of the image and diorama created for the velación is a vibrant handmade alf ombré made of brightly dyed sawdust, edged by a garden, made up of a combination of flowers, fruit,vegetables, bread, candles and other colorful items.

Procesión- each procession follows a planned route from the parish church through the city returning to the church up to 12 hours later. Processions generally begin with men dressed as Roman Centurions leading the way, followed by by incense carriers and banner carriers. Behind them comes the central attraction of the procession the anda bearing the parish’s statue of Jesus set among lavish decoration. This is followed by a professional ban d playing funeral dirges.

Anda – a large and very heavy sodden platform, usually lavishly decorated which has as it’s centerpiece the parish’s statue of Jesus. The anda is carried on the shoulders of the penitents. Some andas weigh up to 7,000 pounds (4,150 kg) and require up to 100 (50 per side) cucuruchos (penitents) to carry.

Alfombra – elaborate and artistic carpets made of brightly colored sawdust or wood shavings, along with pine needles, flowers and even fruit and vegetables are constructed along the route during the hours beforehand. The alfombras are made by residents along the route of the procession who invite friends and family to help with the construction. As the procession passes over the alfombras is is destroyed by the shuffling feet of the cucuruchos leaving nothing but a pile of debris which is quickly cleaned up by the. I I ipad. Leaning crews following the processions.

Cucuruchos -the anda is carried on the shoulders of the cucuruchos who wear purple full length tunics I the processions until 3:00 PM on Good Friday, then they change to black after that. Each cucurucho carries the anda for specific distance and then a new group takes over. The members of each turn are determined by height to ensure the anda is level and balanced.

Cargdora/Dolorosa – both terms are used for the women and or older girls who carry a smaller anda with an image of the Virgin Mary. They follow the main anda and the funeral band. They also take turns throughout. The women wear black skirts or dresses and a mantilla usually of lace.

Well, that is the basic outline of what has been happening each week during Lent and everyday since Semana Santa began. On Thursday there will be three main processions and then Good Friday there will be many starting at midnight and going all day until midnight and it becomes Saturday. Then more on Saturday and one or two on Easter Sunday afternoon.

I am really looking forward to this experience even though I know the crowds will be horrendous.

More later as I actually get there.

 

Spring Break Arrives

I am so glad that we are finally on holiday.  It feels like such freedom to know that I have a whole week ahead of me to be free to do what I want.  I am really looking forward to going to Antigua for Easter Weekend to see the processions that I have heard so much about.  I plan on taking a ton of pictures and hopefully do some writing.  I also plan on getting things ready to sell.

It is hard to believe that I am going through this again.  When I moved here I thought this was to be my last move but that was not to be.  So here I am two years after my big China sale getting ready to do another sale.  At least the car is gone and the TV is sold.

The other thing I am involved is a journaling course with Susannah Conway.  She is an amazing lady and her courses are great.  My favourite part is the other people, usually women, who are part of the course that I meet online in our private Facebook page.  I think there are about 48 of us in this course and I decided to do a Google Earth map to show where we all are located which is literally all around the world.  The only continent not listed is South America.  I had fun learning how to do the Google Earth tour but now I cannot figure out how to get it to all the members.  So that is a challenge for this coming week also.

In between doing all of the things that are necessary I am also planning for the summer and moving to Hanoi.  I am so excited about that…I am very much at peace about the job even though it is going to be a big challenge and hard.  Yesterday I had a bit of a bump when I was one of the jobs I had really wanted and applied for but never got an acknowledgement back posted again.  I allowed myself to waffle a bit about the job feeling sad but then I remember the peace I have about the job in Hanoi and settled down.

Volcanoes in Guate

Pacaya, one of the three active volcanoes in our area decided to become active again spitting ash about 3 miles into the air. It is about 30 miles away from Guate City and so far we are not seeing any ash. The news has made it on BBC and the top one of the pictures is actually from them. The others are taken by friends from their apartments this morning. Joys of living in Guatemala.
We are all fine.

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So proud to be Canadian

Yesterday (Sunday) morning I got up early to watch the Gold Medal Game for men’s hockey at the Sochi Olympics.  While it wasn’t the greatest game ever (that award would go to the Canadian women winning the gold medal in hockey), I loved the fact that I was up with Canadians from literally all over the world watching the game.  How do I describe Canadians passion for hockey?  Having lived a lot of different places I think the only thing I can compare it to is the rest of the world’s passion for football/soccer or in India and Pakistan cricket.

Men win hockey gold

Men win hockey gold

Women will hockey gold

Women will hockey gold

The roads in Toronto were literally empty early Sunday morning.  The bars were full and Tim Horton’s was empty.  Not the usual state of affairs.  Yes, we won the gold but if truth is to be stated our real gold game was when we played the Americans in the semi final and won.

Empty highway in Toronto during gold medal game.

Empty highway in Toronto during gold medal game.

This has been an amazing Olympics.  Our Canadian athletes did a wonderful job.  Yes, there were disappointments.  There always are.  Those who seem to be guaranteed a medal see it slip away.  That is the name of the game in sports and why I love it so much.  Watching that is – not participating.  I am the ultimate fan.  I think my whole extended family is as we communicated on Facebook during so much of what was happening.

The medals were wonderful and there is nothing like seeing the Maple Leaf raised and the Canadian national anthem played.  But there were so many that tried their best and came in fourth, ninth, twenty first or last.  They will always be Olympians.  Dreams are over in a split second.  Dreams that have driven a person for years can disappear.  Watching the 4 man bobsled flip over and then holding my breath while these men slid all the way down the track not knowing if they were going to be OK.  They were and because they crossed the finish line they were not eliminated and got to do the third run the next day.  They didn’t have to show up.  There was no hope to move up to the top 20 and race one more time.  No hope for a medal.  But show up they did and ran a terrific race.  The fans from all over the world were cheering them on.

Canadian speed skater Gilmore Junio who gave up his spot for his team mate Denny Morrison because he felt Denny had a better chance.  He deserves recognition and a medal for character.  Denny Morrison went on to win two medals for Canada.

The curling golds.  Jennifer Jones leading her team to an undefeated Olympics.  The first women’s curling team to ever reach that pinnacle. I was worried about the men after two losses but they came roaring back and took gold.

The X Games sports that I love and fear.  Memories of Sarah Burke 1606851_10153794625565368_508435610_nand how hard she worked to bring these incredible sports and athletes to the Olympics.  Incredible results, falls, dreams made and hearts broken.  So glad they are now part of the Olympics.

Kallie and Heather as they roared down the bobsled track and repeated their gold medal performance from Vancouver

Canadian Bobsledders

Canadian Bobsledders

……they ended up our flag bearers for the closing ceremonies.  Ladies, never apologize for who you are…..strong, confident, talented women.

Moments when our hearts stopped when the puck hit the goal post and didn’t go in during the gold medal game.  It would have all been over for the women except for a 2 inch piece of steel.

Maybe it was the fact that I am in Guatemala and it was the first Olympic games I have been able to see completely thanks to the incredible setup that CBC provided that I have such strong feelings about what I observed.  The sheer joy of being an athlete representing Canada was expressed over and over.  I loved realizing that my friends in Peru, Bangkok, Australia, India, Switzerland and every place in between were all there with me thanks to social media.

I know there is so much I haven’t written about but that may come later.  Regardless of all the political issues athletes came together in Sochi for two weeks of incredible competition.  Joy, heartbreak, tears of happiness and distress all blended together to show the world that nations that politically do not share the same ideology can share a passion for their country, competition and comradeship.  This is the lesson that should be taught to our students everyday.

What I knew before the games and I know even more now is I AM CANADIAN and so proud of it.

Entering the stadium at the closing ceremonies

Entering the stadium at the closing ceremonies

Chilly here in Guate

I am almost afraid to write this post when my family and friends to the north are really cold make that freezing.  I spent most of my life in the north though the area I am from in Ontario is considered the south. :)  Regardless,of the fact I have very clear memories of chilly, cold, freezing and frigid.  The weather to the north is frigid.  Let’s face it when schools are closed in Minnesota it is cold!

With that as the basis I am not really cold though it certainly feels like it this morning when I seriously wish I had worn socks to school.  For the uninitiated, Guatemala City does not have heating or air conditioning indoors.  That means if is 58 degrees F outside that is what it is inside also.  Usually that is not a problem except for about a month out of the year when getting out of warm bed in the morning or taking a shower is the hardest part of the day.

Right now I am sitting in my classroom with my light weight winter coat on, a scarf around my neck and really wishing I had worn the aforementioned socks.  My feet are cold and soon I am going to wrap my scarf around my legs and feet.

The weather took a real turn to chilly yesterday when clouds rolled in and the wind really picked up.  It has continued into today. After walking to the bus stop this morning it was lovely to find the school bus heated when I got on.  I am seeing a lot of different teachers and classes today as work is being done in my iLab instead of outside where they usually work.  It is nice to be in touch with everyone. When I was in doing homeroom this morning I noticed a number of students sitting at their desks with earmuffs, hoodies and scarves on.  I did need to remind one of the girls she had to take her gloves off so she could do her school work. It was cute.

Regardless, of this time of year there is something special about Guatemala including these pictures of the sunrise over the school as I got off of the warm bus this morning.

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On the way to Panajachel

I am presently on a shuttle from Guate to Pana for Christmas week. It is my first time to visit the lake and I am really looking froward to it.

We left Guate at 11:00 to go Antigua with the driver Carlos, a guy from Australia presently living in Seattle and a girl from Ireland ,presently living in Nicaraugua. She was going to Earth Lodge just outside of Antigua a place I really want to visit. I was theo second one on and got the front seat with Carlos which definitely turned out to be the right decision. On the way to Antigua Carlos would slow down and show me the coffee plants and the volcanoes so I could take some pictures. He made sure I was able to get good pictures.

Once in Antigua, we took a break for about 20 minutes and then we began to go around and around Antigua picking up the other 10 passengers going to the lake. That took about 1 hour and 15 minutes. There were some ruins we went by four or five times but finally we had our 14 people in the shuttle, our luggage all on top and we headed off for Pana. We should be there in about 2 hours.

Our shuttle is packed with one Canadian (me), one Guatemalan (Carlos), three Aussies, one South Korean and the rest Americans. I am really glad I got the front seat because it is packed back there. Everyone seems to be reasonably happy and are seasoned travelers. All told, I think this is a great way to get to Panajachel only costing $25 US.

We are climbing up the mountains on a very decent road. Of course, the fumes from some of the vehicles might aphixiate us though with the choice to breathe bad fumes or closing the windows in a nun air con shuttle there was no real choice.

It is beautiful, green trees all around us with Agua rising in the distance.

Later:

We continued to climb and climb through the mountains. All along the road were children and women waving at the vehicles. It was great to see that children are the same the world over. They find excitement and happiness is the small things. Suddenly we feared to the left and took off on a two lane highway that would lead us through many small towns and and eventually begin our descent into the lake region.

Lake Atitlan is beautiful. Panajachel is also a nice place. I look forward to exploring it. After dropping almost all the other passengers off at the different docks, picking up passengers who were heading back we arrived at Porta de Lago. Checking into my lovely suite was great and for the first time I saw the view from my balcony. Just beautiful. While not feeling guilty I do feel for my family and friends back home who have had to endure a huge ice storm right before Christmas.

Made contact with a friend who is also staying here and my Christmas trip begins. I wonder where I will be next year?