03/29/24 Good Friday in Huehue - south - CycleBlaze

March 29, 2024

03/29/24 Good Friday in Huehue

I switched hotels and moved to a place closer to the main plaza where the action is. I’ll find out tonight if that was a good idea. It’s two bucks cheaper, so that’s a plus. 

I arrived to find the streets blocked off and full of people decorating the pavement with “alfombras”, carpets of colored saw dust. Each of the streets was being worked by different organizations, such as neighborhood associations and churches. They later got destroyed as they were trampled as part of today’s Good Friday observance. 

But that was in the evening. The afternoon event was a crucifixion reenactment preceded by processions and before culminating with the crosses raised in the plaza. I followed one procession for a bit in the morning, watching as they slowly marched through the city center and stopping for prayers at selected “stations”. 

Later the Romans drove Jesus to the plaza where he was to be executed. While I was watching I overheard some other spectators speaking and one asked the other if they were Catholic. I didn’t catch the answer, but the fact it was a question is interesting. I’ve noticed mostly evangelical style churches on my ride in, very few of the large central churches that are in virtually every Mexican town.  Catholicism is not the default here. 

People seem friendly but reserved. When riding past people I often get stares but if I say good morning or afternoon I always get smiles and greetings in return. In addition to stares I’ve had a lot of people yell out “Hi!” in English and several wave me down, eager to talk. Invariably they learned English during a working stint in the US. 

Another thing I’ve noticed is that I’m usually  the tallest person, by several inches. 

There’s a “grittiness” here that I didn’t notice in Mexico. Mexico felt to me to be prosperous and modern (no go zone’s notwithstanding)  while Guatemala does not. I don’t recall noticing this when I was last here in the 1970’s, but suspect it’s I who has changed and it’s always been like this. 

I’m going to stay another day. My hotel is comfortable and inexpensive and I need to work on my mental game. I remain unenthusiastic about the road ahead and have to fix that  before I’ll be able to ride it. Meanwhile I’m enjoying doing nothing   Also, if I leave on Easter Sunday traffic should be light. 

On the side of a school I passed in search of a different hotel
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This is a communal laundry, with women washing clothes by hand. I walked past and thought “Shucks, another cool thing I can’t photograph because it would be rude”. But I changed my mind, went back and explained to the ladies that I’d never seen anything like this before and could I please have a picture for my memories
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They laughed, giggled and agreed but clearly not wholeheartedly
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Except for this cutie, who was all in
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My brain said “dispensary”
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I studied this relief map with great interest. It’s in the central plaza and is of the department (state) of Heuhuetenango. Not a flat place
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Everyone refers to the city by its nickname
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A fruit store I found myself in front of while waiting for a procession. It made me decide I needed a mango
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I find mangos delicious but so messy I only buy them off street sellers who peel and slice them for you
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I don’t know if this is fresh or salt water fish. I feel inland, but really this country is so small that either coast is nearby. I probably won’t eat any fish anyway, not a big fan
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My hotel courtyard. It has a decent coffee shop attached
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and cats
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This procession slowly wound its way through the streets, followed by a band playing mournful music
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Karen PoretAt least those carrying the float are not hooded as in Spain…:)
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2 weeks ago
At this stop they offered prayers to exploited workers and parables to bring them comfort and the strength to persevere and thus perpetrating their condition
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Working on the alfombras
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This one used wood chips instead of sawdust
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More alfombra prep
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How it turned out
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How it ended up
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I joined the crowd of sidewalk supervisors offering orientation advice
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Bill ShaneyfeltI did that for a minor celebration and they invited me to help, so I did! Summer high school missions trip 2010 was interesting!

Then it all gets trampled and swept up.
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2 weeks ago
How it turned out
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The Romans came by while I was waiting for my mango to get prepped
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They later passed by my hotel, bringing Jesus to his fate. The guards took their roles seriously, it looked like an uncomfortable experience for the condemned but the crowds enjoyed it
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Pause for the selfie
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There’s a party air
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Waiting for the crucifixion. The mayor gave a speech first and then we gave a round of applause for the guy who played Jesus
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Mission accomplished
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I returned to the plaza in the afternoon to watch the procession. It was packed around the cathedral
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Coming to you live
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I checked out a few more streets
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This one was very well done and had the look of a plush carpet
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I positioned myself near the first street in the path, conveniently around the corner of my hotel. This guy came by carrying I don’t know what
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Karen PoretResembles a palm tree seed pod..what do you think, Bill?
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2 weeks ago
The soldiers came by on both sides of the road. The ones who passed in front of me were very polite, exchanging good afternoons with the public
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I was dismayed when these guys were positioned in front of me
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About to begin! We are eager to see
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The procession approached with the lollipop lady leading the way and still offering them for sale
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The coffin passed in a cloud of incense
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These guys were working. That’s when I understood why my view got blocked
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The swap out was choreographed
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The women seemed chill with their coffin, and didn’t get replacements on my street
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We live in an Instagram world
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The mood was somber, like a real funeral
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Karen PoretI think it is very respectful they are showing such empathy.
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2 weeks ago
But not completely
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and then they were past
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What took hours to create was transformed in minutes
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I knew from my earlier explorations that there was a row of food vendors at the end of the next street in the path of the procession. I wisely went over before it arrived to avoid the crush that followed once it past
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Churros are round here
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People are shorter here, child on mom’s back for scale
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“Mickey! Mickey!” the children shout and point
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Rich FrasierAmazing pictures and journaling. Thanks for documenting something I would never see for myself. It was fascinating.
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2 weeks ago
Robert BryceGreat planning to be in Guatemala for Easter. Great to hear from an eye witness
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2 weeks ago
David ChavezI couldn’t have planned this, I’m just happy I stumbled on it!
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2 weeks ago
David ChavezTo Rich Frasierthank you
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2 weeks ago