Jan Ledbetter – March 29 – April 8, 2012
Semana Santa in Antigua, Guatemala
Copán Optional Add-On March 27 – 29
11 Days, 10 nights
Group size limited
For what’s included, costs, and other details, download the brochure.
Join renowned artist and traveler Jan Ledbetter on her 6th trip to this colorful and magical country featuring Antigua’s Semana Santa celebrations, perhaps the most extravagant and impressive in all Latin America; a “World Class” Cultural event, like nothing you have ever experienced. The celebrations start with a procession on Palm Sunday, representing Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, and continue through to the really big processions and pageants on Good Friday. On Thursday night the streets are meticulously carpeted and on Friday morning a series of processions re-enacts the progress of Christ to the Cross, accompanied by melancholic music from local brass bands. Setting out from the Church La Merced, Escuela de Cristo and the village of San Felipe, teams of penitents wearing peaked hoods and accompanied by solemn dirges and billowing clouds of copal incense carry the image of Christ and the Cross on andas (massive platforms). On Friday the pageants set off at 6AM, with the penitents dressed in either white or purple. After 3PM, the hour of the Crucifixion, they change into black.
Andas are topped by colonial sculptures of the cross-carrying Christ, wearing velvet robes of deep blue or green, embroidered with gold and silver threads, and the anda is carried on the shoulders by a team of eighty processional carriers (cucuruchos) who heave and sway their way through the streets. The cucuruchos are dressed, Monk-like, in purple with white headdresses, and they process for as long as twelve hours through the town. A loud brass band with drummers, playing a funeral march that often sends a chill down the spine, brings up the rear.
Ahead of the processions, the cobblestone streets of Antigua are covered in alfombras (carpets) made up of colorfully dyed sawdust, pine needles, flowers, flower petals, corozo (yellow flowers pulled from giant pods), berries, fruits, and vegetables. Many hours and elaborate detail go into making the carpets that line the streets. The alfombras are offered up as a sacrifice in anticipation of the procession that will destroy them by marching through the painstaking and fantastic creations. The designs of the carpets reflect Maya influences, images of Christ, the sacrament, jungle scenes, and of the cross. While most carpets take ten to twenty or more hours to construct, they last on average two hours before the many feet that march over them during a procession destroy them. They are considered to be blessed and to hold magic powers so onlookers run to pick up undestroyed flowers after the float has passed.
While Semana Santa is our main focus, a trip to Guatemala would be incomplete without taking advantage of many other wonderful highlights including the “most beautiful lake in the world”, Lake Atitlán, surrounded by three majestic volcanoes keeping watch over twelve Maya villages and the crystalline waters of this magnificent lake. We will visit Maya villages and markets, be treated to a ceremonial and festive Maya meal at a private home, and travel through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the Americas. You will witness the Maya who still live and survive as they did for hundreds of years; people who are happy and at peace with the beauty they able to weave into their textiles, with the produce they grow and sell at their markets, and with a blend of pagan rituals and Christian beliefs, with simple lives not totally influenced by the need for modern technology.
The “optional” trip to the Maya Ruins of Copán, Honduras will allow you to experience one of the most artistically advanced and elaborate of all the Maya cities. Copán is known for its classic Maya temples, altars and stelae, and is one of the greatest treasures of ancient art and architecture in the Americas.
So, pack your bags and get your expectations in gear for the travel adventure of a lifetime. The number of travelers on this trip will be limited, so get your Registration in right away.
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