The highlight of Holy Week in Antigua is the Procession. Preceding it are 5 Processions over 5 weeks.

Briefly the Procession is two groups of men carrying andas over a route between churches that winds through the streets of Antigua, over (and destroying) the beautiful flower and dyed sawdust carpets for a few miles.

The carpets

An anda

Tens of thousands of people watch from the sides of the streets, it’s the event of the year, and it’s a good idea to pick a spot a couple of hours in advance. If you’re tall you’re in luck. I’ve a few not-so-tall friends so out of tact I’ve avoided mentioning the most glaring truth about Guatemaltecas other than their good nature when unarmed. The average height is 1.65 meters. This is about .17 meters short of less than, er, a fair deal. This explains why I have to take the pictures of the militia at a bit of a distance and crop the photo hard. If I crouched down for a shot of a guy with a shotgun that might not end well. But a bit of height’s a huge advantage in a crowd so I had a great view and Claudia’s (shortish) studying for an English exam the next day so no problem.

Basically the Procession’s an opportunity for Antiguans, who’ve sinned in the preceding year, to shoulder the load of an anda, as Jesus (if you like) did with the cross. They have to pay some money. For this, they’re totally absolved of their sins. Piece of cake.

It may not look like it but 86 men carry two andas, a few hundred yards apart, total 172 men. They switch men every block or so because there are more than 172 sinning men in Antigua. This is interesting to know because then you can do the math given Antigua has a population of 35,000 and let’s guess 40 change-overs. It’s a whopping percentage of sinners. But it’s all relative. Hopefully the sins here are, on average, no greater than forgetting to take out the garbage. But if this was home, West Van, it would be the entire male population out there the percentage might be a bit higher.

So I have my spot in the crowd – it’s a great spot because the street here is narrow.

Here are a few photo’s and some short videos.

Walking early downtown

It gets crazier as various groups and camps position themselves


Views are at a premium. This kid was almost the only gringo I saw all day. The tourists for some reason avoided all this. Maybe because it was fairly intense. Their loss.

So, rather than pics, a few short videos of what happens next. The sounds and movement are much more impressive.

First, the incense

then the anda comes into view

and closer

and then it’s here

After, the Guatemaltecas hung around the various parks

Last to leave are the beautiful, thoughtful, Mayans

I wondered about the chaotic mess that used to be wonderful carpets but soon that was dealt with too

I could try to describe all the activities but it would fall far short of doing this day justice, so best to not try.



2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Great post Jeremy, boy they must have been some bad buggers since it takes that much to be forgiven.

    Here’s a clip from the start of the superyacht regatta where we just came home from. We missed it by a week and a bit, but the boats were arriving while we were there.

    Best Regards

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