Monday, June 29, 2009

Farewell to Antigua

Tomorrow I head back to El Salvador, taking with me many fond memories of Antigua and of the maddening, frustrating, hilarious process of learning another language as an adult (children, bless their hearts, have no trouble with this at all). I hope I emerge more comprehensible, though I am sure I will continue to be a source of comedy to my Latino/a friends.
I was happily distracted from the subjuntive and its many complications by the fourth Corpus Christi celebration this month. The first, on the actual day reserved for Corpus Christi, the feast celebrating the gift of the Eucharist, took place in the Cathedral, and was followed by a grand procession. But why have only one procession when you can have several? Each of the major churches of Antigua took turns with their own Corpus Christi celebration and procession on the following Sundays - first the Escuela de Cristo, then La Merced, and finally, on Sunday, San Francisco El Grande, the church closest to the Molina's house. Before Sunday's celebration Los Gigantes - giant figures mounted on tripods, see the first photo above, danced in the streets where Sunday's procession takes place. The giants dance with the aid of strong men and - I don't know why though I asked - they are two couples, one clearly European and the oher clearly African. Then on Sunday the procession emerged from the church, complete with incense and firecrackers, and made its slow way through the streets of the neighborhood. Doña Thelma has bought pine needles for the passage of the Corpus - they made the entrance to the house smell wonderful all week - and the family rushed out to place them in the street just before the procession arrived. Then the padre carrying the cross and his canopy passed over the pine needles, and five minutes later the street sweepers were cleaning up, collecting the pine needles and putting them in the dump truck (see last photo). So those pine needles were out in the street for no more than 15 minutes. The people of Antigua know how to celebrate, and how to clean up afterwards.

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