"The only country that has lost its culture is Costa Rica, they've sold out." Somehow it comes to be that these interesting words told to me by a new friend here in Guatemala are the beginning of my first entry explaining my travels to this beautiful part of the world.
In Nicaragua I had the privilege to experience many 'procesiónes', which are parades through the streets celebrating various saints and other cultural/religious phenomenons. About a week I was in León sitting on a corner side cement step watching families pass from house to house asking '¿quién causa tanta alegría? (Who causes this much happiness?) as the response from the people inside claims to be the conception of Maria. Afterwards candy is distributed as well as small household items of all sorts and sometimes the exchange is met with songs not unlike carols which were once used around Christmas back in the USA.
A few weeks before that I was also fortunate to witness the Procesión de San Jerónimo which was met with heavy drinking early in the day along with cross dressing and loud drums. Right on. Yet it makes me wonder in silent happiness where the resting the world has been while people in this part of the world dance to such a different rhythm.
Costa Rica sold out? Did colonialism slap it's firm fist too hard and exchange its last bit of tradition for the accommodation of gringos on their honeymoons? I don't know... I chose to go north here to Guatemala.
Only two short days in and I'm hooked. Here it is always spring. The city of Antigua let's you wear whatever you find suitable to the perfect climate and it's whichever day of the week you choose. Cobblestone roads pace the way and slow the not so heavy traffic allowing life to pass at its natural pace. People don't work hard and they don't have to. They live in abundance and find time to make procesiónes of their own. Even as I write this children are passing by knocking 'tortugas' (music makers, not real tortoises) and singing hymns into houses of their neighbors while welcoming the holiday season. Christianity left its mark here.. Opinions pending..
So as I've learned there was this guy Hermano Pedro who lived during the time that the church of San Francisco was still intact (I put up some pictures of the ruins in a previous post). Hermano Pedro was a bit of a green thumb and in his life he left behind a great tree whose saplings were collected to plant future generations of his trees all over Antigua. The photo above as well as the pictures of the church below show his work and influence on the history of this town.
Sometimes I meet people who are extraordinary. Actually this trip has blessed me with many but a quick snap of a smartphone's camera shows the friendly face of Vernon, a quite interesting man who has seemingly been traveling the world since he was able to stand on two feet. His stories are for his listeners, not the readers of this blog.
Actually there are dozens of amazing people I've met on this trip yet to write about all of them would be impossible. Those stories are for me as well as the photos I've taken with my mind's camera of the local people who I pass, I'm still too shy to photograph the wonderfully dressed and tooth-fully smiled faces of the locals who inhabit this town. I'm in the beginning of Mayan country and once I depart from this town I'll be back amongst the village people and the stories to come, if I choose to share them, will be beautiful.