Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Festival in Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Today is a sight to behold, it´s the Fiesta de Santo Tomas in Chichicastatenango. Dancing, music, fireworks and las bombas, which as it looks, is loud explosions all the time (starting at 3.30 this morning). We’ve been wandering through the streets and there are amazing parades and processions, which are just incredible.

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

We have had a full day in Chichi and it was fantastic. There is a lot of activity – music playing continuously, lots of locals wandering around in traditional clothing, there were traditional dances in the most amazing and elaborate costumes, processions through town carrying these huge statues – really incredible. We seemed to have been in the right spot every time.

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

The markets have everything you could imagine in them, shoes, clothes, fruit,ceremonial masks children’s toys and even dried fish!

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

After lunch we hired a guide, Jose, to wander up to the cemetery. The cemetery is gorgeous as the tombs and crosses are all brightly coloured. Jose told us it depends on what day of the week you die, eg if you die on a Monday your tomb is blue, on a Wednesday it´s pink. Some of them had two colours, which shows the day of the week that you die firstly and then the day of the week that you were brought to the cemetery. He also pointed out the different crosses, as there is a Mayan cross as well as a Catholic cross (which crosses higher). It´s interesting, as the Catholic and Mayan religions seem to have merged together for the locals here. Some of the graves had black paint on them as well, which Jose told us was because of the bad spirits from the witch doctor.

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Jose also took us to a ceremonial mask workshop and to the costume place, where I even tried on one of the local dancing costumes. It was a bit smelly, which is hardly surprising given how hot it is here and they are dancing in the full sun.

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Jose also took us up Pascual Abaj, which is a local shrine to the Mayan earth god revered by locals. It was a fifteen or so minute walk up a hill, so we also got a great view of the town. Some locals had just finished a ceremony to the god and a chicken had been recently sacrificed. There was a fire smouldering, chicken feathers all about and a charred chicken carcass still burning. Half way up the hill we passed another Mayan shrine with a women chief doing a ceremony with a local woman. They were both smoking the hugest fattest cigar type things you´ve ever seen. We asked Jose about it and he said that it was a ceremony to help her or someone in her family stop smoking. He said he had been to the witch doctor to stop smoking a year ago and it had cured him.

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

The fiesta is non-stop. Las bombas and the fireworks go off non-stop. We asked Jose how long and he said five days. That´s a lot of gunpowder, because these things are huge. They go way up into the sky and make a noise like, well a bomb. One day of the festival is enough though, as with the music, dancing and las bombas I should imagine that after five days you would be pleased to have some peace and quiet.  But what an amazing experience.

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

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One Response to “Festival in Chichicastenango, Guatemala”
  1. Thanks! Feel free to subscribe, I have a trip coming up to Japan so will be blogging more regularly. Great to hear from you!

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