written April 28, 1999 by Brian Foley

Semana Santa (Holy Week)
Antigua, Guatemala
Mar. 28 to Apr. 4, 1999

OK, so its taken me a few weeks to digest the experience and find the right moment to write about it. So sue me. It hasn't been quite a month yet…

I arrived in Antigua on Domingo de Almas (Palm Sunday) to find myself dropped off on the outskirts of town, surrounded by male pilgrims dressed in purple sheik outfits. It was possibly the busiest traffic day of the year in Antigua, and traffic was at a standstill. Many gringo tourists and people were coming to town for the day from Guatemala City. Many more buses were bringing in the locals from various surrounding towns. I had no idea where the processions where, or for that matter where the center of town was, but I knew I was close.

Antigua is not what I had expected to find. It is for the most part one story tall, flat, with walls in various conditions of repair lining the streets, and the many homes behind the walls and barred windows. Its a short town. I could shoot rolls and rolls of film just on the doors and the textures which are found here. But that can be said of just about any town I have visited so far here in Guatemala, and for many in Mexico as well. So anyway, it turns out that Semana Santa is Antigua's busiest week of the year and most of the hotels are booked already. But I knew about that and was able to get a place at Posada Ruiz for 17Q a night till Thursday, when the price doubled for Easter weekend.

The procession I saw on Palm Sunday was, for the most part, a jovial affair accompanied by a happy marching band following the huge coffin like thing the guys carry with a life size Christ carrying the cross on the top which is following a two or three block line of processioners cleansing the air with almost stifling thick copal, frankincense and cedar incense. But this was nothing compared to the smoke that was coming later.

next page

bottom border

all rights reserved. copyright 1999 Den of Syn Designs