I am due for many, many updates – so many photos and experiences and stories to share! But, life is a bit hectic right now, so in the meantime, check out this video! I have the privilege of working with the young man who made it…more to come on that later!
La Feria de Santiago Atitlan has been in full swing for the past week – the streets are packed with people, fireworks go off at all hours of the day and night, marimba music fills the air in the mornings, while Latin pop hits blast in the plaza long into the night, and the central square and surrounding streets are crowded with rides, carnival games, trampolines, and food vendors. In addition to these ongoing festivities, there are scheduled events that have been taking place throughout the week – religious processions, competitions, beauty pageants, and a parade!
One of our partner organizations, the Puerta Abierta Learning Center, participated in the parade along with hosts of other organizations, schools, and businesses, and I had the opportunity to march along the parade route with the young students! It was a wonderful Santiago experience that I documented along the way…
The parade begins at the town’s entrance, where signs welcome visitors to La Fería de Santiago Atitlán
A second welcome sign proclaims Santiago as the capital of the Tzútujil kingdom – Tzútujul is the indigenous Mayan language spoken here in Santiago and also the name for its people, one of the largest concentrations of indigenous Mayans in the world.
The parade participants all met in a large open soccer field called Campo San Jorge near the town’s entrance. The field was set up in a grid system for each group participating to line up in preparation.
Students flooded into the Campo dressed in all sorts of interesting costumes, some with instruments and props, many dressed in traditional traje.
One of the leading parade groups was a high school band that played Katy Perry’s “Firework” with dancing stilt-walkers!
La Puerta Abierta began setting up in our assigned area, led by the wonderful maestras and maestros.
The children arrived, dressed in all different forms of traditional traje, and chatted amongst themselves as they got ready in their lines.
Due to the bright morning sun, most of the girls wore their bufandas, a multi-purpose scarf, on their heads to shield them from the harsh rays.
We had to wait in line for quite some time for things to get started, but the 4-7 year-olds were very well-behaved and patient, even though their excitement and eagerness was quite apparent!
The assortment of colors and patterns in the children’s traje was a beautiful sight to behold! Because of this special event, the children were dressed in their fanciest clothes.
The parade first opened with a ceremony in which the mayor and the Queen of the city (recently crowned) spoke, and we sang the Guatemalan national anthem.
We had roped the kids into lines, preparing to get started, and they were getting anxious!
And finally, we took to the streets, led by the amazing Juanita and Isai, two of Puerta Abierta’s fabulous teachers.
The kids danced along to music blaring from a truck as we walked, and stopped for a full dance performance a few times.