About ¼ of the residents lack running water and electricity, so they do their wash here. One woman was scrubbing clothes in one of the sinks while her two older children played. She had a 2-month old baby wrapped in a blanket and tucked into the empty sink next to her. Her husband was sitting nearby watching over them.
Prior to the processions on the streets, the churches are decorated with colorful patterns of colored sawdust, palm leaves and flowers. Fruits and vegetables are the usual offerings given by the people.
Santa Semana or Holy Week in English is the biggest holiday in Guatemala and the city with the biggest celebration is Antigua. It mixes both Christian easter traditions with early Mayan sacrifices to the corn god. During this week, especially the last part, Antigua is jammed and hotels are hard to find. However, it is one of the most unique and special celebrations held every year. Definitely a must see.
Antigua has one of the largest celebrations of Holy Week. The festivities begin before Easter week and one can see elaborate processions on various days. I was in Antigua pre-Semana Santa, but experienced a procession the Sunday before Palm Sunday. It was truly remarkable to see.
No where near as elaborate or as touristy as the Semana Santa celebrations, the Corpus Christi celebration on the second weekend in June is an interesting view into local Antigueno life without the hassles of large crowds and inflated lodging rates. There's a parade with fireworks outside the Catedral de Santiago on the Parque Central on Friday night. On Sunday following mass at the Iglesia de la Nuestra Senora de la Merced, there's a procession marked by fireworks, music, blessings, and a procession around the northwest neighborhood of Antigua that follows ornamental carpets made from dried leaves and pine needles. These tapete are not nearly as elaborate or colorful as the alfrombra seen during Semana Santa but they are wonderful to see nonetheless. We were lucky enough to see these in Antigua and in Solola the weekend before.
Just across the street (2a Avenida Sur) from the Iglesia de Santa Clara on the east end of the plaza are a series of sinks used to do laundry. The Tanque de la Union was constructed in 1853 in a neo-classical style. Local women can still be seen in the early morning or late afternoon using the water from the fountain/concrete pond to do their laundry. It's a very interesting and unique experience. It is not uncommon to see similar facilities in the plazas of small towns surrounding Antigua.
I love church bells but I wondered why in Antigua the first bells started at 430AM. We think the culprit was the bell ringer at Nuestra Senora de la Merced. The gorgeous most photogenic church...maybe someone out there can let us know why ...so early!!
We often see signs on hotel and restuarants all over the world instructing us to leave our pets outside or to make sure we wear shirts inside but in Antigua there are signs at some hotels telling us NO GUNS ALLOWED!
Buen provecho is what you say for like bon appetite. The family that I stayed with said it after the meal, someone would get up and say gracias and everyone else would say buen provencho! You can also say it if you are telling someone to have a good lunch or something like that.
A pila is an open-air laundry, still used by many Mayans today.
This pila is on the grounds of the casa Popenoe. You can see the individual areas for washing.
Doing laundry at the pila is a communal affair where women gather to scrub, rinse and chat. Efforts to replace the pila with a more modern system have been met with some resistance as the ladies enjoy this chance to socialize!
We had made reservations for 14 at El Restaurante de la Antorchas for 7pm. I was worried that we would be late and our reservation would be given up. However, I found that people get there when they get there! and you have the table for the entire evening!
Nuestra Señora de la Merced patron saint of the city, was worshipped here and turned La Merced into a very popular church. It was also the most important provincial center of the Mercedarians. The monastery, housing up to one hundred monks, possessed a remarkable library, in addition to all the necessary rooms and facilities of a large monastery
One of the most beautiful and representative things of Antigua Guatemala, is the Church and Monastery of La Merced.
The Mercedarian Order was founded in America in 1538, at an early stage of the Spanish colonization. Their monastery in Ciudad Vieja was simply built, most likely from straw and adobe.
The construction of La Merced Church in the new capital began in the mid 1500’s Due to the earthquake of 1565 and 1689, the Mercedarians had to continually rebuild, modify, amplify, repair their church monastery.
Constructed to be earthquake proof, it survived the great earthquake of Santa Marta six years later. The monastery, on the other hand, was completely ruin, in spite of its solid walls. In the 1800’s, its rubble was utilized to build the church in San Felipe de Jesus.
The beautiful altars that decorated the temple of La Merced before 1773, as well as the organ, are found today at La Merced Church of Guatemala City.
The beautiful fountain in its cloister was the largest at that time.
The earthquakes if 1717 extensively damaged both the monastery and church; the latter was slowly rebuilt and was finally inaugurated in 1767. This imposing building, with three large naves, a majestic cupola, and elaborate baroque decorations on the outside, is what we still see today.