Friday, April 2, 2010

Semana Santa Processions. La Merced.



T
he La Merced procession is the one that kicks off the Good Friday celebrations and so it is THE one to watch. For that reason, the group, minus Sue all decided that we would get up bright and early and meet in the lobby to catch the procession. We actually saw the procession twice that morning....the first time it was around 6am and the second time around 10am.


It's easier to get a sense of the procession if you see it in daylight so I'm describing the events of this day in reverse order.

We caught the 10am procession after we had breakfast.  We stepped out of the restaurant and found ourselves in the midst of a crowd that had obviously congregated to wait for the procession to pass by.  We decided to secure ourselves prime viewing spots and patiently wait for the procession.

Before we knew it, the Roman soldiers were walking by us.  Having seen the procession earlier in the day, we knew this signalled the start. 

I compiled a slideshow of photos and video that Soon,Valiant and I took of the procession.  What a spectacle!  Just as exciting seeing it the second time around as it was the first time I experienced it.



After the procession passed by, we got into the act.  There were vendors selling handmade (I would actually say, homemade) cucurucho dolls.  We twisted my brother's arm into buying one.  Of course, everyone had to then pose with it.  That was our one, *cheesy* tourist moment :-) 
.....and just in case the photos were not enough to memorialize the moment, we did a video too :-)  Yes, under the little man's robe was a plastic cup filled with beans so if you shook it, you would make a rattling sound.
If you wonder where the little guy is now, he's pinned to the cork board in my office.....a cute reminder of my trip to Guatemala! Now, flash back to 4am.  We left the hotel lobby at 4am and headed out towards La Merced.   Antigua was already up and at it.   Though the streets were not as crowded as the night before, people were already starting to gather.  On our walk, we took time to admire the alfombras that had been created for the La Merced procession.....new ones that we had not seen the night before.
By the time we arrived at La Merced, the procession had already left. So where to go to catch up with it?
Armed with information from several Antiguenos, we headed back towards the hotel.....to the street that the Childrens Procession had taken place the day before.   As soon as we arrived, we heard the music.  We knew we were in the right place but we wanted to get as far ahead of the procession as we could so we could see the full procession.  We walked as quickly as we could, down the street, heading in the direction that the procession was going in.  When we reached the dead end, we stopped and found ourselves spots to stand for the viewing.   The waiting began but we didn' have to wait for long as I heard the sound of horses' hooves clopping against the cobblestone of the streets.  I turned my head to see the start of the procession.
When it was all over, the cleaning crew did their part starting with the guys in the green t-shirts.  Using brooms, they sweep up the remnants of the alformbras into neat piles. The cleaning truck followed close behind.
Men then shovel the piles into the arm of the front loader.

Ready for the next procession to come down the street!!












Seeing the La Merced procession, not once but twice....what a memorable way to start the day!  It was definitely worth every minute of lost sleep to see it at 6am. To then be able to see the full procession in the full light of day was the icing on the cake!