The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala

Rudy Giron: Antigua Guatemala &emdash; The Holy Week Is Officially Over © Rudy Giron

The Holy Week Is Officially Over!

Yes, it’s official, the Semana Santa is over. Now, it is time to ponder over the good, the bad and the ugly of the Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala.

The Good
It is incredible how much good energy one can feel from so many people having an awesome time. I enjoyed seeing people getting together to create the colourful carpets. Also, I don’t know if it was different than other years, but I felt safe and there’s plenty of police in almost every corner. Of course, this could be a bad sign, depending how one reads it. There was also plenty of INGUAT people on the streets helping with maps, instructions and whatever, as well as many information kiosks in the parks.

The Bad
As always, parking is scarce. Now, it is ridiculous, in my humble opinion, to have to pay for a marbete, parking ticket banner, so one can park on the streets, yet there was almost nowhere to park. If you are going to be paying for private parking, then don’t pay the marbete. As I mentioned yesterday, I don’t know if it is good etiquete or correct for cucuruchos to be taking photos within the procession. I mean there are some cucuruchos who try keep photographers away from the processional route and push photographers to the sidelines, but I didn’t see them doing the same with cucuruchos with cameras. Also, some cucurucho photographers are using long sticks to their cameras up high to the pictures; of course, all those sticks are showing up on people’s pictures.

The ugly
Many streets, especially Calle del Arco, have turned into ambulant markets to the point that it actually feels as one is walking inside a mercado. I guess everyone has to make a living, but perhaps it is a bit too much. Of course the trash was everywhere, and even though I saw cleaning crews, these were not enough. Other thing that was horrible was the urine stench all over town, especially after Good Friday. Once again, perhaps the the temporary public toilets were not enough for all the people on the streets.

Of course, these point are barely scratching the surface, as there are many, many things that we can add to each section. Can you help us expand the good, the bad and the ugly of the Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala?

© 2015, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.

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  • Elí Orozco

    Parking on the streets of La AntiguaGuatemala is a scam, specially on weekends and festive days.
    You have to pay 10 Q for a parking ticket to a transit officers as soon ad you enter La Antigua and if you are lucky and find a nice spot; you have to pay up to 30 Q to a thug and intimidating looking person who has taken possession of the parking spots on the street.
    Last year my wife and I were driving on the streets of La Antigua and we witnessed something: on this solitary street, a female transit officer stands at a corner, a thug looking guy, very suspicious, is walking towards her; when we take the corner I look back and see him giving her a small package, she looks around her and takes the package and puts it in her side pocket and the guy keeps walking away.
    Months later I see that same guy charging for parking spots in La Antigua.
    Marbete: Last year I went to Acatenango Volcano with a group of Guatemalan mountaineers. They had rentedout a yellow bus for our transport.
    We had to cross La Antigua and while doing so, we are stopped by a transit officer. He checkes bus papers, permits and so on and everything is fine, he states we are somehow breaking a law, apparently it is forbidden to transit the streets of La Antigua, and the required permit to be able to so, was to buy 2 marbetes. The bus driver buys the 2 marbetes (parking tickets) and we are let go.
    What!?

  • El Güito

    About parking, the warning will be for next year, but remember that during Cuaresma (Lent) and specially Holy Week, the Processions bring parking along the sidewalk to almost none; although there will be posted signs and the obvious blockades due to Ceremonial Carpets, there is always someone who “didn’t notice” On a Processional Route, you will get towed away, or I have also seen – picture opportunity – as many men that can fit all around the car, bounce it out of the way.

    Now, that marbete thing can be included in both the Bad, and the Ugly sections and possibly will take a full chapter and discussion group on its own.
    Anyone know where to download the Marbete Regulation? I looked at the Regulations section of the City Hall but it’s not there. I’m sure it is against its own statute to impose marbete to a mini-bus moving along and not parking.

  • Guy Howard

    The etiquette is clearly not being enforced evenly. There are all sorts of obvious Cucurucho dress code violations. As for photography, the old rule that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission seems to apply, but over the years I have come to the realisation that there are spots on the processional route where one can get ‘inside’ the procession in a far less intrusive and obviously ‘rude’ manner (e.g. outside the cementerio). I have also noted that at the favoured set up spots of the professional and semi-professional snappers – such as on the Calle Ancha and in front of the big vegetarian carpet in the Parque San Sebastian – there is another form of potential public etiquette violation as the photographers take up and hog positions and in doing so effectively block access to the ordinary people who just want to get a shot of each carpet with their mobile phones. Meanwhile the worst treatment of casual photographers seems to occur at the vanguard of the procession – this year one of the Roman legionaries that walk far ahead of the anda whacked me with his plastic sword and it was only my desire to avoid an ugly, disrespectful scene that prevented me from taking it from him and placing it where the sun does not shine…