Such a lovely small city – fine climate, everything is so close, prices reasonable, but the people are what makes it happen. I feel fortunate to be here and have the time to take it all in.
Around 5:30 am I woke to singing. It sounded like it was on the street, but by the time I got out of bed, hit the bathroom and put on a robe, it was over. Hmmm … was I dreaming?
We slept late and walked to a nearby restaurant for a bite. The sidewalks are narrow here, allowing little room for passing. We were slowed down by the man ahead of us. He’s small, but probably our age. When we got to the corner and all stopped, he looked at us, asked if we speak Spanish. Yes, we replied and said we were from Texas in the States. In perfect English, he told us he’d studied in Cleveland some 33 years ago. He welcomed us to his city and wished us a good time in Antigua. I thanked him for stopping us.
Our destination was the market today, looking for materials to make our alfombra on Palm Sunday. I try to walk a different route each time just to see what’s on each street. Armed with Elizabeth Bell’s book about Lent, we decided to visit Santa Lucia church for their velacion. This is a small church, but the decoration was beautiful. All the pews are removed and a lovely alfombra was created in the center with space to walk around it and to the front to see the figures. The carpet was all colored sand, edged with fresh vegetables and fruits, the idea is for the scene to look like the garden. Among the edging were carrots, melons, oranges, cabbages, papaya, mango, zucchini and string beans. Oh and pineapples and watermelon. Just lovely. As mentioned, this church is small in this town of many churches, but as Elizabeth says, all carpets are equally beautiful.
Headed to the market, which is a riot of things. I was in the market for materials for our alfombra, but walked the whole place. It’s somewhat organized and sells everything you need. Literally everything and lots of each thing. Fresh foods take up much of the area, with flowers, veggies and fruits, chickens, and then dry items, beans, rice, peppers, spices. Most things are presented in huge canvas bags and are measured into small plastic bags for sale. Next to dried peppers was the women’s underwear section with bras of all colors lined up on a table. Other women’s clothing was not traditional wear, but the stretchy tight tops and skirts, kind of like hooker outfits. Then shoes. Then galvanized tubs. Then pottery. Then the men’s section and each booth looked like proper menswear store. Here and there, a vendor sat on the floor with a bunch of bananas and mangos for sale. Then girls making tortillas and cooking them on a comal. Smells and sounds everywhere.
Finally back to the house and a rest. Around 5 pm, I heard the singing again. This time I was ready, went to the door and saw about 10 people walking down our street, one holding a large cross, all singing, then stopped at one of the stations. Our street is Calle los Pasos, and the stations of the cross are here, small little street front chapels, numbered 1-14. Someone explained to me it was a Via Crusis, or the stations of the cross.
We had an early dinner at Café Sky, which is a rooftop bar with stunning view of the volcanoes and all the cupolas around town. On the way back home, we stopped at a bakery selling cupcakes decorated with cucuruchus, the men who carry the floats in the processions.
I was in the process of putting this up on the blog, when I heard more singing. Stepped outside the front door to see about 100 people walking and singing, one large cross and several with candles. Guess I wasn’t dreaming.