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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Holy Week Procession

Panajachel, Guatemala

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Holy Week is one of the most important times of the Catholic Church and it is during this week that the life and passion of Christ is celebrated. Beginning Palm Sunday and ending Holy Saturday, there are colorful processions all throughout Latin America to observe the importance of Christ's last days on earth.

We were in Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala during Good Friday and caught a bit of the processions and the colorful carpets that make this time so famous around the world.

Church of St. Francis built in the 1500s

Here you see the town's church which was built in the 1500s to honor St. Francis of Assisi. The carpet down the center of the photo is made of fine, colored sawdust and the procession will walk down this carpet as they enter the church.

Side streets are decorated also

The whole town becomes part of the procession as the streets are decorated as well. The people, carrying the floats on their shoulders, walked down this street earlier in the morning.

 

A Madonna scene carpet up close

Here you see Mother Mary with the Baby Jesus in her arms depicted in the sawdust carpet on the street. The crowds of the faithful and those carrying the floats will walk through this carpet during the procession.

Basically the procession destroys the carpets and they are swept away after the group has left.

Another alfombra

Alfombra is the Spanish word for carpet and these street decorations can be quite elaborate, taking hours to make. They can be comprised of sawdust, but also pine needles, sand, rice, flower petals, corn husks, grasses, flowers and even fruits and vegetables.

Designs are created by utilizing a wooden stencil and the different colored materials are poured through the holes.

Waiting for the float to arrive

Here you see an alfombra made with pine needles, fruits, rice and flowers. There are side altars also where bouquets are placed and people can kneel down to say prayers or ask for God's blessing, forgiveness or favor.

The neighborhood gathers, watching the float pass by

An effigy of Christ carrying his cross is on the float, carried by selected members of the church. The float, which is astoundingly heavy is borne on the shoulders of those walking in the procession. Frankincense is burned ahead of the float to clear the way for it to pass.

Christ in the center, with a Roman guard behind him

Here you see the float from a different angle. A Roman guard is depicted behind Jesus, moving him along to the mount where he will be crucified.

Many of the faithful reenact the 14 stations of the cross during Lent. These stations are eventful moments during the Passion of Christ from His trial where He is condemned to death all the way to when He is laid in the tomb after he is taken down from the cross.

Purple is a color of Lent

Purple has become the color for Lent and represents penance. Often churches will be decorated in this color during this time of year, and priests will wear purple vestments.

 

Frankincense clears the way

More frankincense wafts through the streets and the procession continues through the town. Notice the purple swath of cloth on the cross in the right of the photo, along with a crown of thorns at the top of the cross.

Keeping control of the tempo

You might not recognize it, but there are two men in white shirts at the front of the float who are keeping the tempo of the procession. They hold the float back just a bit so that everyone can be in the same rhythm and speed. If the ones in the front get carried away and move too quickly, then the ones in the back cannot keep up and will drop the float. Or if the ones in the back push too hard, then the ones in front will be walked over.

Something tells me this happened at some point before, and now there are those in charge of the pace of the float to prevent it from happening again.

A closer look

Here you see those carrying the float on their shoulders, and the men who are pacing it.

If you are ever in Guatemala during Holy Week, you will see processions such as these with gorgeous carpets on the ground. Most cities will have these gatherings, and some cities are famous for them, such as Antigua.

For more stories, photos and information about Antigua, click here

For more stories and photos of Guatemala, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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