During Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Antigua residents make these amazing Alfombras (carpets) out of dyed sawdust, pine needles, and flowers. They are created as offerings to Jesus as the story of his crucifixion and death are recounted. Purple robed cucaruchos carry huge, heavy floats bearing statues of Jesus in different stages of his ordeal through the streets adorned with the alfombras. The mood is festive and somber at the same time. The making of the alfombras is festive as families and neighbors work tirelessly (and often well into the night and early hours of the morning) to complete their intricately detailed carpets. Some alfombras include fruit and breads as offerings. As the processions go by the mood becomes somber and some people dab their eyes with hankies as Christ's ordeal is displayed. Starting on Thursday around noon and completing on Saturday morning, the processions move through the labyrinth of streets in Antigua on a predetermined route. The people of each street know when the procession will be coming and prepare their alfombras in time for it to pass by. So at any point in time lookilu's like us can walk around town and see alfombras in varying stages of completion. My understudying (which is slightly fuzzy) is that different churches around town are responsible for different stages of the story. For example, La Iglesia San Francisco started on Thursday with the carrying of the float depicting Jesus bearing the cross. The next day, Iglesia La Merced (with cucaruchos in black robes) carried a float with Jesus in a glass casket. The processions were very moving and I found myself getting choked up now and again not only in response to the processions, but also in awe of how lucky we are to be able to share with Soleil a little of the magic that is her birthright.
Waiting for the procession with our friends the Cawrses.
The Cucaruchos carrying the wooden float with Jesus bearing the cross. They burn incense and pound bass drums as they march across the Sawdust Carpets. Beautiful and quite moving.
The kids were excited to get their hands on some sawdust after the procession went by. See Volcan de Agua in the background. I love that volcano. It's so majestic.
Neighbors and families join forces and spend hours to create masterpieces in the streets as offerings for the coming procession.
Nearly too cool for sawdust carpets: my darling first born.
Beautiful Mayan women outside the market on Tres Avenida hard at work on their sweet smelling alfombra of pine needles and flowers.
The statues on the floats are incredible detailed and realistic.
In front of our casita in Antigua. Then...
In front of our casita in Antigua. Then...
P.S. Since this picture was taken in Antigua we returned to the boat, which was docked at Tijax Jungle Lodge, traveled back up the Rio Dulce, and explored the southern Cays of Belize with our friends, the Cawrses. We had a great time with our friends, but it was a stressful week for me as ALL of my kids were sick with different ailments. Fevers, stomach pain, colds, coughing, barfing, delirium, staph infections (you do NOT want to know where), and one severe allergic reaction to sulfa drugs. Being on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean with no internet and nary a clinic in sight was just about more than I could handle. Because, you see: I'm not a doctor! (Although you would think I was studying for the boards with all the medical books I have on the boat. Who says I never read?) Thanks to my Mama (a P.A.) for all the time on the phone helping me to get everyone sorted (and for interpreting those pics of the staph infections. Gross, I know. I'm sorry.) And I owe a shout out to our dear friend Dr. Ron who not only took my desperate satellite phone call from the middle of the ocean and had all the answers, but who had recommended that I have prednisone in my medicine bag just in case of "severe allergic reactions". Thanks, Ron! You're a life saver.
So except for a few more gray hairs and some scaring in several unsightly locations, we're nearly 100% recovered. We've been relaxing here in Placencia, Belize for the last several days. What a darling little beach village! You must visit if you ever get the chance. Our friends left earlier in the week and as much fun as it is to share the boat with friends it sure is nice to have it to ourselves (and cruise around naked to our hearts' content). Next stop: (if Dave is successful in tearing me away from this darling village with unlimited ice cream, lattes, and a clinic) is the islands of the Belize Barrier Reef (second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia). Stay tuned...