The Charm of Street Vendor Culture: Antigua, Guatemala transforms for Holy Week


In the weeks leading up to Semana Santa, entrepreneurs from all over Guatemala have been eagerly anticipating the explosion of local and foreign tourism that occurs in Antigua every year during the Lent celebrations. As the population rises in Antigua with each passing day, vendors flock to the city in search of potential customers. With nothing but a small pile of charcoal, a rusty grill and a slab of cast-iron, women begin preparing food in the streets. Over open fire they make fresh tortillas, grilled meats, guacamole, rice and beat-salads which they market to passers-by from the side of the road. Observing the incredible resourcefulness of Guatemalans is nothing short of impressive.  Small cash businesses seem to emerge overnight as vendors flood the streets marketing heaps of textiles, elaborate rosaries, small toy sized replicas of the cucuruchos, and of course, typical Guatemalan food and candy. Continue reading

Velación at Santa Inés, Guatemala

Veladora PanoOur arrival in Antigua, Guatemala has been punctuated by fascinating, religious celebrations corresponding with the 40 days of Lent in the Catholic religion.

On the second Friday of Lent, we joined thousand of people making the pilgrimage to a hilltop church outside of historic, colonial Antigua, Guatemala. The church was packed with wall-to-wall parishioners who came to honour the ‘Venerada Imagen de Jesús Nazareno, Aldea Santa Inés del Montepulciano.’  We were calmly sucked into continuous rotation of Guatemalans trying to reach the pulpit. The altar has been replaced by an exquisitely adorned handmade ‘carpet’ of coloured sawdust, flowers, fruits and vegetable, a cultural staple of Easter in Guatemala. Above the carpet, a nativity scene is set depicting a story from the bible. They come to pray, to ask for forgiveness and to give thanks. And they come to take pictures of the stunning display this year. (Changes every year)

We found ourselves easily funnelled back out to the celebratory atmosphere of the night. Live music, food vendors and revellers gave out spirited joy and sugary sweet aromas. Veladora Combo

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