After spending an awesome day with friends in Antigua, we awoke to the biggest festivities to celebrate Semana Santa, Easter Holy Week, in this predominantly Catholic city.
We had been told that 4am was the best time to start seeing people create the beautiful carpets of colored sawdust, flowers, and fruits and vegetables (and beat the crowds). 4 am?! Are you KIDDING me?!!
Well, needless to say…our crew of 6 adults and 10 kids did NOT make it that early. In fact, we didn’t make it out until late in the morning! We drove our van into town from the nearby gated community where we were staying (just far enough to be unrealistic to walk with children…but close enough to not be “out” of town)—and found a closer parking space (I don’t recommend parking in Antigua during this holiday—it’s nuts). The sides of the streets were littered with these bundles of pine needles, waiting to be used for carpet displays.
We immediately set off following a big procession going down the street in front of us. We were too late—only seeing the after-effects of the trampled carpets. We could see the clean-up crews working hard to shovel the mess into piles.
Next came the truck with the giant vacuum house hanging out the back—sucking up the sawdust and needle mess into the truck! Wa-la! The streets were clean, and ready for more carpets! Talk about efficiency!
We struggled to get through the crowd so we could see the carpets BEFORE they were walked on!
Within minutes our large group was divided. I had the girls and the baby on my back, and I had kept sight of the Dennings. But I had lost my husband, Jared, and the Kings in the excitement.
The Dennings and I rushed around town snapping photos wildly, and I quietly longed desperately to share it with Jared. Where was he?!
Jared spent most of the morning searching for us (while taking photos of the most spectacular carpets), and the Dennings and I had spent most of our time trying to catch up to processions that were going every which direction in town–while wrangling 8 kids in total (the Kings had been separated from us for almost the full day)! After hours and hours of trekking through town without him, we finally caught up with each other, each utterly exhausted!
We thought there would be a lot of rhyme and reason to which streets had the carpets, but around every corner we looked there were new processions and new carpets being built ALL day! We learned that anyone is welcome to build a carpet, and no special permission is needed. Most of the carpets were made out of an assortment of dyed saw dust, pine needles, fruits and veggies, and flowers. The colors were so spectacular, and the excitement was contagious! Without further ado…the images from our day…
The crowds standing back to watch from a distance!
Yes, our kids are normal!
We collapsed by the end of the day—totally spent. What a sea of colors, cultural, and music!
To learn more about the carpets, read here.
To learn more about the Catholic celebration of Semana Santa, read here.
There is nothing quite like this anywhere in the world. I would love to return and experience it all again, and again, and again!
If you’re considering visiting Guatemala (which you should)…plan to be there during Easter Week for an absolutely unforgettable experience!