The Great Joy of Aimless Meandering (Antigua: Holy Week + Photos)

Antigua, Guatemala-- Good Friday Semana Santa (Holy Week). The Semana Santa religious festival is the biggest event of the year in Antigua, and people come from all over Guatemala and the world filling the city up to the rafters.*

It was a gorgeous afternoon and my all-night dance party hangover was just wearing off. I ran into some travel friends from San Pedro La Laguna in the central park just as the sky was starting to turn and sprinkle a light rain. We decided to go walking, and soon enough a sprinkle turned into a drizzle and then a torrential downpour. We ducked into this cafe -- Jose Calaveras -- just in time to beat the sheets of rain pouring down.

The majority of the pics here cover that period of about 2 hours in the cafe, and just out front, from about 4:30-6:30pm Friday. You can see a rare site of the procession altars on wheels as the rain first starts to let up. Later, the official procession starts, carrying the main altar that weighs in at about 7,000 pounds. 

It was the perfect afternoon. 



This was one of the best days I've had in Guatemala -- and definitely one of the best ever. There's something very special and unusual about wandering aimlessly in a city like this. It's the perfect place and time to find yourself in the most wonderfully serendipitous moments. 

Not enough people make the time and space for experiences like this. Aimless meandering is now topping my list as one of the single most important activities of a life well lived.... :)

*On Thursday night leading into Good Friday the locals stay  up all night preparing elaborately prepared "carpets" made of painted sawdust, flowers, plants and grasses, flowers and ash. The various processions start just after daybreak, carrying giant altars with statues and religious relics dating back to the 17th century and before. As the various altars are carried and swayed through the streets -- followed by large musical processions and municipal trash sweepers -- the beautiful carpets are trampled beneath their feet. It's a a very rich tradition symbolically, calling to mind the Tibetan buddhist sand paintings and zen sand gardens.


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