Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dia de Santiago Apostal

God is good!  Thank you so much for your encouraging words and your prayers for me!  I know I was being lifted up, because even though I still struggled, class this morning went much, much better.  As my teacher reminded me, when you climb a mountain, it’s step by step.  If you try to take too big a step, you fall.  Poco-a-poco!
Marimba concert
This Monday in Antigua was Dia de Santiago Apostal.  At first I thought it was for James, the brother of Jesus, but it was for another Saint James.  This Santiago didn’t live quite that long ago, although the holiday dates back to 1524, so that’s still pretty old!  Santiago Apostal is the patron saint of Antigua and when he lived, he was a defender of the city, helping the poor and needy.

They sounded great!
We weren’t really sure what all would be happening during the long weekend, but we were excited to find out.  On Sunday afternoon I wandered downtown to find a concert of marimbas.  This is the national instrument of Guatemala.  The originals were made of the wood of a specific tree, and the different sounds came from increasingly large gourds placed underneath the wooden keys.  On Sunday there were 14 large marimbas being played by groups from all over this area.  They were joined by drums, bass, and other instruments.

La Senorita de Antigua
La Seniorita de Antigua (Miss Antigua) and her attendant were there, both in fancy gowns and crowns.  (We found out that one of Dona Cristi's granddaughters is a past Miss Antigua.)  At one point a little girl of 7 or 8 in a white dress was brought on stage to meet La Reina (the queen).  I’m sure it was to have been a very special privilege, but the poor nina started crying, and had to be carried off stage by her daddy.  Probrecita, her brush with fame was a bit overwhelming!
On Monday afternoon Haley, Myles and I walked back down to El Parque Central.  We saw lots of school-aged kids in their uniforms (the girls look very smart in their plaid skirts, knee socks, crisp white shirts and vests).  There was a marching band of students in white.  Miss Antigua was back, along with her attendant, both wearing crowns – and very high heels!  It was impressive to watch them negotiate the cobblestones in 5 inch strappy sandals. 
Marching band
The band started to pick up their instruments and get into formation.  We noticed that instead of wearing their chin straps under their chins, most of the boys wore them under their noses.  Boys and girls lifted their drums, xylophones and cymbals into place.  One little boy seemed far too small for his drum, but he wore a great big smile.
Carrying Santiago down the steps
of La Catedral
Suddenly there was movement in La Catedral.  Down the large steps came twenty-five or thirty girls carrying a huge wooden platform with flags, flowers, and a statue of Santiago standing in the center.  This is going to sound a tad morbid, but it looked a bit like a giant coffin being carried by two dozen pall bearers.  Along with the girls, there were boys at the front and back helping steer.
Other people showed up, including a group who almost looked like they belonged at a Christmas manger scene.  There were also three men dressed in clothing like the Spaniards might have worn in the 1700’s – poofy tops and short pants in velvet and brocade, tights and high black boots.  There were nuns, another marching band, men in dark black suits, more students…
Getting into place
(notice Senorita Antigua!)
The band started playing, and the march was on.  But, not before the firecrackers!  We’ve learned that it can’t be called a celebration unless there are firecrackers, fireworks and bombas (air cannons).  The louder the better!
Marching band heading through El Arco
(Diego in the foreground with back to us)
Santiago’s platform almost danced as the girls took five steps forward and then two back.  The entire procession headed down the road.  We walked in another direction toward La Merced and caught the procession as it turned the corner.  At some point they must have changed schools because the girls now carrying Santiago had grey skirts, not red & green.  I can't imagine how heavy he was!
Poofy shirts & high boots
'Manger scene' folks
We saw the grandson of Dona Cristi’s cousin, Angelita.  Diego is around 15, and one of my favorites of all the family who stops over.  He is very sweet, lives with Angelita, and is very attentive and kind to her.  He was snapping pictures of the parade like an expert.  We’re hoping we get to see his work!
Through El Arco.  The girl in the front kept getting
hit on the side of the head.  Ouch! 
(Notice Diego going in for an action shot!)
Later that night there were more festivities, including another concert and fireworks.  We were all tired, so we skipped them, but we were glad to get to be a part of the fun!

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