I have written all about my weekend excursions, but have yet to write anything about Antigua, so here are some slices of life from my hometown:
I bought a membership to a local gym, to keep all the frijoles and arroz (beans and rice) from doing too much damage, where I decided to try out an Aerobics class. And what a class! I have taken dance and work-out classes back in the States lots of times, but they were nothing like this one. “Aerobics” was really a non-couple version of salsa, with the students and instructor laughing and dancing the entire time. The music was banging, and you could barely hear the teacher speak (in English or Spanish), so to get our attention he would whistle, pat his head and use his arms to tell us what to do next. It was a blast. Definitely the most relaxed gym experience of my life; no one was trying to impress each other with their mighty moves or muscles, it was just fun.
Speaking of salsa… we checked out a dance club where all the locals go to dance and I was blown away. There was one couple that stopped me mid booty-shake (and you know how I like to booty shake), because I just had to watch them; they commanded and owned to dance floor. Salsa like I’ve never seen! The girl broke her heel mid dance, but did that stop her from doing the splits on the ground while her partner danced above her? Hell no! They were incredible, and after the salsa music switched to hip hop the guy challenged me to a dance off; much to his surprise I matched most of his moves. We both laughed and his partner came over to show me a few of the female salsa moves. It was a blast.
Here are some other experiences of Antigua:
-Being the only one who jumps every time celebratory fireworks go off in the street. (And this happens frequently. We are talking LOUD enough to be bombs, what a way to say happy birthday!)
-Teaching my host dad, Luiz, su-do-ku in Spanish; a true test of my Spanish skills.
- Watching the indigenous cows drive by in the street in front of my house on their final drive to the slaughter house.
- “Making” tortillas with
- Peering in one of the grand cathedrals and seeing at the very front of the church, on their knees in prayer, was a bride and groom taking their vows with their clans seated behind them.
- Watching incredibly elaborate religious processions, where 100 people hold up a memorial sculpture of Jesus on their backs and walk around the city, stopping at holy spots. (See pictures above)
- Reverently watching smoke plumes waft from the still active volcano Fuego (which means fire).
- Stepping foot into an old colonial hacienda which is now the largest and nicest McDonald’s I have ever seen. Can you believe it? I bet the original family never would have guessed that their elaborate home would one day become a fast-food chain.
Yesterday, Chrissie, Pablo and I visited an incredible cathedral (see picture). While we were poking our noses around, the services started, so we took a seat. The services were in some unidentifiable language, not Spanish, not Latin, not Maya, and most of the attendees were “ladinos,” (non-indigenous) or tourists. Whatever language it was, it didn’t lose its power, but in fact became more moving in my eyes, because I realized that the people around me knew the service and message of the priests in spite of their varying native tongues. When we greeted the congregation around us, shook hands and hugged, it was incredibly powerful to know that these people who were from different countries, races, and worlds, were equal in this moment under the eyes of their god. They were equal servants and the customs or differences that usually forbade them to interact openly with each other disappeared. The faith of the attendees themselves was inspiring; an old couple sat in front of us on the wooden benches, and the woman struggled to pray on her knees while her husband, equally as frail, helped steady her. The thought of how old the church was, and how many prayers had been uttered here over the decades struck me. There is just nothing like that in
One clear difference in the conception of Catholicism in