This weekend (beginning on Holy Thursday) has been like living in a Mexican/Catholic Disneyland. Throughout all of Latin America, schools and work shut down and people take time to travel. San Miguel is extremely popular this time of year for its natural beauty and its Semana Santa pageantry so thousands of mexican and foreign tourists flock here.
The streets are bedecked in purple and white crepe paper and banners symbolizing purity and mourning. Street vendors are out en masse taking advantage of tourists’ pesos – selling the usual balloons, baskets, ribboned dolls and plastic toys, along with a plethora of religious tokens. Instead of hearing lively “fiesta” music, you’re more likely to hear church bells or in my case right now, they’re playing Gregorian chants in the parque (I’m seriously not kidding).
Thousands of people came yesterday to witness not one, but TWO incredible Good Friday processions – Santo Encuentro (the Holy Encounter) and Santo Entierro (the Holy Burial).
Santo Encuentro re-enacts four steps of Jesus’s walk to Calvary from his judgement by Pontius Pilate to his encounter with his mother Mary (I hear they used to do the 12 stations but that was way before my time). It’s an extremely moving spectacle and no matter what religion you ascribe to, you can’t help but feel a mother’s pain and anguish as as the statue of Mary faces the statue of Jesus before he’s led away. See my pics on Facebook.
The second procession at sunset is the very solemn Santo Entierro where an elaborate glass coffin bearing a statue of the crucified Christ is led through the streets, preceded by roman soldiers, little girls carrying cherubim, women in black with lace mantillas carrying archangels, all flanked by men and women in black holding candle lanterns. More Facebook pics.
I feel very lucky to be here to witness this amazing season. No events scheduled for today, but it looks like lots happening tomorrow. Better get my Easter bonnet ready!