We took a magic carpet ride to Antigua, the original capital of Guatemala. Antigua has been kept as a national monument, undeveloped and colonial.
It was wildly crowded during Holy Week with Guatemalan worshipers, multitudes of participants, and the curious, like us.
One could not help but be moved by the color, the preparations, the clothing and the tradition we were steeped in.
We arrived to streets being calmly festooned with carpets made of naturally died sawdust in intense bright colors. Stencil molds made the intricate patterns in some of them. In others, the carpets were more free formed. Some were made on a layer of pine needles, decorated with flowers, fruits, nuts and grasses.
No sooner was one finished but a procession of forty or more parishioners carrying a float the size of a trailer bed, heavy with sculptures of the Virgin or Jesus among angels or apostles would march over it followed by a band and multitudes of extras.
I am not a religious girl but I am a spiritual one, a believer in energy and a lover of story. Glory and devotion overflowed. Offerings were plentiful and loving.
The weight of the floats was enormous, like that of a heavy truck. Carriers would switch out from time to time for relief.
The marchers shifted their weight in an exaggerated sway from left to right foot, giving the scene a kind of living breath.
Some carpets were made of edibles. The mangos, chilies and coconuts got scooped up in the aprons of hungry spectators. Gigantic drums, tubas and flutes pounded a dirge which became firmly secured into our heads and hearts.
After the procession, the glorious carpets were quickly swept up.
A new replacement was quickly begun for the next passage.
Guatemalan families in their brilliant hand woven clothing came to stay, sleeping along side of the processions as they continued until 4 am.
This woman, wearing her beautiful huipile, sold me this bag she made from antique huipiles from Chichicastenanago.
On Easter Sunday, we drove off to Lake Atitlan and Chichicastenango to visit the Mayan church and the markets.
When we returned to Antiqua, it was emptied and quiet, returned to its sleepy historic simplicity.
This was an Easter week like no other for us. Wondrous, inspirational and historical.