Easter in Guatemala is something special to write about, and it´s not even Easter yet. So, the overwhelming majority of the population is Catholic. Even the indigenous people continue their traditional Mayan ceremonies while being practicing Catholics (the Spaniards graciously allowed the indigeous people to maintain some of their traditions when the country was colonized, they only had to work for pennies and wear clothes so they were easily classified.)
Anyway, we´ll write more once we experience Easter, but for now, I´ll fill you in on some the exciting things that happen the first week of Lent.
Fat Tuesday aka Carnival
The day before the 40 days of Lent that lead into Easter is known as Fat Tuesday in the U.S. and associated with Mardi Gras celebrations and engorging and embibing before Lent starts, a time when many Catholics and Christians focus more attention to God and Jesus. So enough background, Carnival is a day filled with celebrations, and we learned is especially exciting for kids.
The kids of Xela don´t go to classes, yet play all sorts of games all day and put pica pica (pronounced PEEK-uh PEEK-uh) and glitter in their friends hair. Pica pica is pretty much confetti and translates to mean itchy itchy. Even more fun, the kids hollow out egg shells, paint the shells, and fill these with the pica pica and glitter so not only do they put this stuff on each others heads, they get to smash and egg shell too. Awesome. The older kids put another naughtier spin on it, and as you might have guessed put actual eggs on their friends´ heads along with flour. More than this, kids will throw eggs at passerbys and flours on strangers heads´. We were cautious gringos after a few other students were unexpectedly "attacted" and prepared for baking.
1. boys throw flour on girl´s head 2. happy little girls with pica pica in their hair 2. pica pica & broken egg shells
Our 9 & 10 year old host sisters were fantastically excited about not wearing a uniform to school and playing games all day and eating junk food. They described to us a few of the games, and they´re pretty exciting. Anyone that attended a private school will relate to the shameless ploys to raise money.
1. queen and king of every grade - basically the kids get all fancied up and the kids put money in for the prettiest or handsomest, and they later get crowend. Little kids in makeup. Awesome.
2. attack the monster/ person - a few teachers and parents dress in huge monster costumes and the kids get to attack them and then get candy. Sounds fun to me.
3. get married - our sister was especially squimish and grossed out this this prospect, but basically the kids separate in the standard boys on one side, girls on the the other, and some how get "married" and kiss. They pay for it too. Catholic schools sound a bit risque here to me.
There´s a super rad street market that gets set up for a few days over the weekend and thousands of people come to buy dehydrated super smelly fish and everything from aluminum pots to fried food to woven clothes. I wish I could have a stratch and sniff sticker right here: X, because the smells were over the top extremes from super fresh churros and chocolate covered fruit to crazy things like dehydrated salmon, smelt, snake and alligator - putrid smells. Needless to say I went to the market 3 times to take it all in. Sadly we couldn´t eat those crazy things, because they weren´t there ready to eat, only to take home to cook.
Here´s a video with me speaking Spanish showing the market with English subtitles:
The favorite thing we tasted though was caliente de piña, which is basically a hot tea sort of drink with fresh pineapple juice and chunks, papaya, cinnamon, cloves, and coconut. OVER the top amazing.
Other adventures seen below:
1. white corn on the cob with butter, mayonaise, ketchup, spinkled cheese, and kyle got hot sauce.
2. pupusas = pancake like tortillas with melted cheese or peppers & meat inside. Awesome. (originate from El
I like Easter celebrations, and look forward to more of these crazy sensations.