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Tag : Guatemala

21 Mar 2016

A final look back at Guatemala

3814Now that I am back home after flying all day yesterday, I can take a good look at my photos from the trip and think about all the wonderful things I saw and people I met during my workshop in Guatemala. I can’t thank Edgar Monzon enough for putting us in great locations, driving us around, showing me how he connects with people on the street and for helping me get a new passport. Edgar worked hard to set up the trip and it showed, his arrangements were flawless, the hotels and meals were great. Edgar is a special person and I’m happy to be able to call him a friend.

Guatemala is a beautiful country, mainly due to the people. Most of them don’t have much money, many live in pure poverty but as Edgar says they might not be rich with money but they are rich with happiness. They greet each other, and us, on the street and seem to have a special spirit.

I put together a selection of photos below, I hope you enjoy them.

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Picture 1 of 42

15 Mar 2016

Hang on to your wallet and passport when traveling

A mom and her kids perform at a busy Guatemala City street corner hoping for tips.

A mom and her kids perform at a busy Guatemala City street corner hoping for tips.

Like I said yesterday, the people of Guatemala are very friendly, except for that one guy whole stole my passport wallet, which, yes, had my passport, a couple of credit cards and some cash.

It happened Sunday morning while on the streets during the procession. I had a large passport wallet in my front pocket but it must have been sticking out some. We were wading through people elbow to elbow, so it got pulled while I was in the crowd. I noticed it was missing when I got back to the hotel but I thought I must have left it at Edgar’s condo. I contacted him and since we were going to be back near his condo yesterday, I didn’t worry about it until last night when we couldn’t find it there.

Crap.

So I spent some time online to find out what I needed to do. I’d never lost my passport before and had no idea what to do. Fortunately there are benefits to being American and the State Department is one of them. I needed to fill out a couple of forms online, print them and go to the U.S. embassy back in Guatemala City, 90 minutes away. I planned on taking a taxi but Edgar wouldn’t let me. His daughter drove down this morning and took me to the embassy while Edgar guided the rest of the workshop in Antigua.

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13 Mar 2016

Guatemalan Procession is like no other

procession carpetEdgar and I got up early and went to a large procession in a village not far from his condo. I have seen small processions in Hispanic communities in the U.S., but nothing like the way they do it in Guatemala. The procession is part of the Catholic’s Holy Week celebrations but on a scale I couldn’t imagine.

First, people stay up all night decorating the streets. I don’t mean hanging flags or banners along the street, they make intricate carpets in the narrow streets where the procession will go. They use fruit, vegetables and other plants to make beautiful displays on the street. But the most amazing is what they do with sawdust. They dye it in bright colors and spend hours, literally not sleeping all night, to do amazing artwork on the street. There are miles of these carpets and then they are destroyed as the procession walks over them.

procession streetThe procession itself is hard to explain. Men carry a large platform that has statues of Jesus during the crucifixion through the narrow streets. The platform they were carrying is larger than a semi-trailer and looks like it weighs as much as a loaded one. They had 40 men on each side of the platform and they could only carry it a few blocks before they needed to change carriers. The grimace on their faces told me they were struggling under the weight. They walked in unison so the platform would gently rock side-to-side in rhythm as they slowly moved down the cobblestone streets. Other men with long poles lifted power lines so the statues wouldn’t get snagged. Making the turns on the narrow streets was a feat in itself, they barely fit around the corners. They procession lasts about 12 hours as they slowly wind through the village. Nearly a million people pack the streets, making it nearly impossible to move.

procession bargeWe could only stay a couple of hours because we needed to get back to Guatemala City to meet the other workshop participants. This is one event I’ll come back and document right. Especially since Edgar said there are even larger ones during Holy Week.procession face

12 Mar 2016

Welcome to Guatemala

Vista Real HotelI arrived in Guatemala City today for my five-day Guatemala Photo Workshop. I was met at the airport by my friend and our host for the week Edgar Monzon. Edgar has an incredible itinerary planned for us and it will be an exciting week.

Almost as soon as we got in his car he started telling about a processional in a small town about 90 minutes away that happens tomorrow morning. He didn’t plan on us going since the workshop starts in the afternoon and we need to pick people up at the airport, but it sounds like an exciting event. The problem is we need to be there by 6 a.m. or we won’t be able to get into town because of the massive crowd.

We are staying at the fabulous Hotel Vista Real in Guatemala City. It is one of the nicest hotels I’ve stayed in and it is less than $100 per night. It is worth the flight to Guatemala for a long weekend just to hang out at the hotel.

But Edgar has a condo in the town next to the processional and staying there will let us sleep almost two hours later. Since this is the first night of the trip, it made sense to leave the hotel and stay at Edgar’s place, which is very nice also.

So tomorrow we are up early and heading into the crowds for some fabulous photos.