Yesterday was the quiet and today was the storm. Jesús Nazareno exited La Merced Church carried on the shoulders of more than 50 bearers and thousands of spectators. The sea of people parted with his passing and we hid with our dogs and our pixels. It was the first day of the seven-day march towards Easter and the beginning of our stay-vacation. We laughed having become prisoners of our own city, but we were grateful to keep behind the quiet walls.
Brad calls the throngs fanaticism, the opiate, I call it habit. Sergio Aníbal Mejía Cárdenas at TedX in Guatemala City last week, spoke about the tendency to find less education and more ignorance in more religious societies. (Guatemala is known as the most traditional, conservative and religious country in Central America). Superstitions go up and logical, inductive reasoning goes down. In part I believe that applies to Guatemala, a country lacking in auto-didacts and where I rarely see a person reading a book, but everybody knows exactly which procession happens when and the intricate and windy course of each Jesus and Mary. I walked many of those courses as a child with mi abuelita.
Here, the slight bit of cold wind makes you sick, standing in front of the fridge and walking barefoot on your floors gives you pneumonia, not making the sign of the cross when you pass a church dooms you, and all big dogs bite. While it’s true all societies have them, Catholicism in Guatemala in the peak of Semana Santa is a spectacle, a national passtime, a common thread of identity which might not put us on the same page, but it certainly puts us out on the same street to watch the spectacle of the sacred or at least a glimpse of something – a yearning for something unattainable.
Last week our neighbors threatened to shoot our dog in the face because he barked in front of their door. Outside the usual weekend morning procession passed. The horns, the drums, the cymbals, everyone was out of sync.
Isn’t the most important thing how you act as a human being?