----------------------------------------------- Google Site Map ----------------------------------------------- Cindy in ...: Mexico: Semana Santa, or Easter Week, in San Cristobal

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Mexico: Semana Santa, or Easter Week, in San Cristobal

After spending Carnival in Merida (Ooops, forgot to write about that, maybe later...), I was looking forward to Easter in San Cristobal.  I expected lots of processions, and a crowded town.  I was disappointed on both counts.  I think there were more out in the villages, but I didn't know about them.  Besides, I spent Semana Santa  in Antigua, Guatemala a few years ago, and I doubt anything will ever top that.

Because this was at the height of the flu epidemic, the Mexican tourists that shop owners were expecting didn't really materialize.  Although the numbers were not too far off from the normal season, the tourists didn't fly in from Mexico City or Monterrey, but drove up from nearby places like Villa Hermosa. The flu risk in San Cristobal was minimal.  It doesn't have an airport of its own, and is way off the normal long-distnace bus routes.

The most peculiar thing to me was how little publicity there was.  The cathedral put out a schedule of services, but there were no posters or other advertising that I could see.  I sort of found thigs by happenstance or rumor.  The search for the procession, the mock crucifiction, the burning of the effigies - all these things involved running around, asking questions, and trying to ascertaing times.  The police who were stationed everywhere didn't seem to know much about what they were going to protect when.

Even the chuch services weren't taken very seriously.  I wanted to go into the cathedral to see how it was decorated and what was happening duing Easter mass.  Since I'm not Catholic, and not local, I was hesitant to intrude.  Then I noticed that a lot of Mexicans were going in clutching their cameras, then coming out fairly quickly.  When I saw a nun enter in the middle of the mass and emerge five minutes later, I decided that maybe it wouldn't be too offensive if I went in for a look.  I joined the crowd, stayed for a few minutes, and left, along with many others.

We all headed straight for the vendors.  Tent stalls had been erected on the plaza in front of the church, and blankets were spread on the ground to display handicrafts, toys, and other goods. One corner was set up for bands to perform. It was, above all, a festival.

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