Friday, April 18, 2014

Semana Insana in Guatemala!

posted by Sara

This week is Semana Santa in Guatemala.  The celebration of the Easter week.  Semana Santa is a HUGE celebration here and most people take off the entire 10 days.  In addition to those people who come to vacation on the Rio Dulce in their boats for the week, Antigua fills up with people celebrating the more religious side of the holiday.  Here are some images of Semana Santa.

The end of a Semana Santa Procession in the street in Antigua.  Many men in purple robes.

The picture above is the gate to our vacation condo in Antigua.  This is what we saw on Sunday morning at 9:30 as we came out to the gate with all our luggage.  We were supposed to meet our shuttle to take us to Guatemala City so we could catch the bus back to the Rio Dulce.  Uh Oh.  I don’t think our shuttle is going to make it!  Apparently they had shut down the entire city for these walking processions, allowing no cars in.  Our shuttle was sitting in a long line of cars outside the entrance to Antigua.  Luckily we had left lots of time, and it all worked out in the end.

The kids enjoying the pool at the neigbouring marina in Rio Dulce, while I supervise boat work.
The kids have been enjoying the pool at a nearby resort while we have been "on the hard.” Yesterday they swam with 3 vacationing US families who live in Guatemala City and have rented vacation houses here for Semana Santa.  One of the families was here with an NGO, and two were with the US embassy, one being an FBI Agent.  I didn’t know they really existed!

Rio Dulce is a resort area.  The river drains big lake Izabal at one end, and the ocean end provides access to El Caribe and the Cays of Belize.  This area fills up during Semana Santa with all the wealthy people from Guatemala City who keep their boats here.  The river fills up with crazy young Guatemalans on jet skis blasting up and down, churning the entire river into a froth.  Every marina and restaurant is blasting music through speakers out over the river, presumably to attract customers (although it is keeping us away).  It makes a summer weekend in Fort Lauderdale look calm.  I don't think this is really most people's mental image of Guatemala.  It certainly wasn't ours!

Helicopters bringing the wealthy to Rio Dulce for Semana Santa.  And also blowing dirt all over the boats in the yard.
Our Marina has 5 heli pads for the wealthy boaters who chopper in from Guatemala City to get on their boats for the week.  Many of them head up to Belize.  Most of them have their own helicopters so they just park them here while they are on their boats.  The marina has recently added two new heli pads.  You can see how close they are behind the boats in the yard.  When the helicopters land they send gravel, leaves, sticks and other debris onto all the boats.  Luckily we are parked on the other side of the yard but there were a few unhappy boat owners after the first few landings.  Someone mentioned that there will be less debris once a few helicopters have landed and blown it all away.  Hopefully!

Some of the big boats docked at our marina, all tucked away in their boat sheds.
On Good Friday, we were treated to a nautical Stations of the Cross procession in front of the marina.  The jet skis took a break for a few moments as several boats filled with people in purple shirts paraded along in front of the marinas.

Jesus leading the procession of boats.

Purple is the color of Semana Santa.  I'm not sure of the historical reason for this, but everyone involved in the procession was wearing a purple t-shirt.

One of the boats had prominent pictures of the Pope on it's stern.
The Virgin Mary's boat stopped for fuel right in the middle of the procession.  I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure "Gas Station" isn't one of the traditional Stations of the Cross.

The lead boat with Jesus on the front, and this picture over the stern.

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