This last week, our FINAL week, we traveled out of Guatemala city and into the old, colonial capital of Antigua for Semana Santa festivities. During the week we stayed in the beautiful Lutheran Retreat Center run by an indigenous women’s cooperative. As we wrapped up this semester with final presentations we also ventured out into the city to observe all of the traditions of Holy Week. The packed streets were often covered with beautiful rugs made from colored sawdust, flowers, veggies, and other natural materials- these got more intricate and colorful as the week progressed. In addition, there were many processions sponsored by the local Catholic churches, symbolizing the mourning of the crucifixion. They consisted of men and woman (and for one, children) carrying giant floats of Jesus and Mary through the streets of the city for many hours. Most of us witnessed this amazing feat and saw the dedication of these people to their traditions. The fiesta climaxed the night of Maundy Thursday with a night full of the preparation of alfombras (rugs) and processions starting in the wee hours of Friday morning.
While many of us went and viewed the magnificent decorations, we also shopped, took many pictures, relaxed, and soaked up our remaining days together. It was a week full of rich tradition and continuous Guatemalan culture- the perfect finale to our adventure here. Spending a little time debriefing, the realization of our homecoming became more evident. We have much appreciation, however, for this experience and what it has taught us and we are grateful for the opportunity we’ve had.
As we say “adios” to this amazing land and “hola” to home, we want to thank you for your thoughts, support, and prayers over the semester. We pack up with much anticipation of returning to share our experiences with all of you. As we are celebrating and traveling, please continue to pray for our safe arrival- we’ll be home soon!
– Kiersten and Erin