Missing in Action, man….

Dear friends… its a Monday and I should be painting… but, I have been neglecting the importance of recording events through this post for over a month now… since, well… the volcano! episode. My sincerest apologies…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Iniyal and I have had three lovely adventures since the volcano! climb as we have been trying to get a few adventures in before the Christmas season brings us back to the Great White North. Speaking of the Great White North – The daily stormy weather has been replaced here, in Guatemala with the occasional high wind and the very often sunny, blue, puffy white coasting cloud and warmth of the season. A quick Apple Dashboard check up reveals that it is currently 20 degrees outside… sunlight streaming into our bright apartment. That is today…

A quick journey in the time machine backward… or sideways… or maybe up… since time itself is such a complexity that I would never expect anyone to fully explain its true course… praise beans. Lets go back to….. 1952…. wait no. Lets go back to November 1st 2007…

NOVEMBER 1st 2007 – The Day of the Dead Kite Festival Santiago Sacatepequez.

KiteThe Day of the Dead. On this day, each year, families gather in the grave yard to remember their ancestors and loved ones. They do this by having picnics, decorating graves and tombs with bright flowers, and building brightly coloured kites. These are the basics… there is also a crowded street festival punctuated with the sweet smells of local fare, music floating through the air and locals selling their bright hand made crafts. These are the basics… I cannot even begin to go into further detail about all of the things that one might see during this festival.

Lets back up…. though, I will skip the shuttle bus ride… and I will skip the hike up the streets in the mid morning, as things are just getting started, just getting busy, just getting hot… on the streets… towards the graveyard… where, as we wander effortlessly up the road… we start to catch first glances of the beautifully decorated kites, tiny and giant hovering in the distance above fields and houses alike… just getting started, just getting busy, just getting hot in the streets.. as the sun brightened the countryside… while in the graveyard, as we passed through the gates (I won’t even mention the delicious snack I sampled along the way) – through the gates into the graveyard, full of tomb stones and tombs, dirt mounds and plaques…. packed solid with so many people, here in the graveyard where things started quite some time ago… where things had been happening for quite some time before the tourists arrived in their shuttle buses. In the graveyard… crowds watched in awe, the enormous flight of these kites built for this special moment… to fly above the fields, soaring with the warmth of the wind to meet the souls of those passed.. remembered on this day.

Giant KItes in SantiagoA note…
The festival is comprised of many events… many things that are happening at once. The focus for most is the building of the super giant kites (three story’s high) that will be judged on visual design as well as the speed in which their team is able to complete them before hoisting them upright for display against the blue skies packed with flying kites. The focus… for most… or the tourists….
The festival is comprised of many events… many things are happening at once, though in between all of this, and to a degree, holding firm in tradition and almost defiant of the crowds and the chaos are scores of families… sitting amongst the gravestones, decorated with colourful flowers… bottles of water, wine or juice among a selection of food.. a picnic. Families with less an expression of excitement and glee, and more an expression of deep remembrance. boy with kiteChildren build kites, and, while away from the festivities of the flight teams… attach notes to their creations with the hopes that their message will reach high enough in the sky for their relatives to receive, carried upwards on the days wind. A beautiful, though somewhat melancholy sight. Though, after spending some time and giving it some thought, it occurred to me that it may be less of a melancholy day for many… as this was a time when people might be able to have a strong connection to someone they dearly miss… perhaps keeping them close to themselves – a time to enjoy their company of memories, to share stories.. rather than grieve and feel overwhelming sadness. It occurred to me.. that perhaps we had it all wrong… dead is not dead.. its just different. Hopefully the photos explain things more clearly than my ramblings.

Meanwhile… on the slopes of the graveyard, folks were busy dodging the kits flying teams as they battled the high wind, pulling feverishly at their ropes, leaping over graves, tripping over plants and flower pots… as their 12 foot kites floated effortlessly high above them… off in the distance…

We found a few points of interest to watch the skies, watch the building, watch the people… all the while soaking in the festive atmosphere that threatened to overshadow everything that we try so desperately to attach to what a graveyard is… and as the kites filled the skies, launched, soaring, crashing, re-launched…. we let it, on this day remind us that life was too short to not spend some time flying kites and enjoying a beautiful sunny day in the graveyard on a hillside at the town of Santiago Sacatepequez.

gateAfter several hours… we hooked up with the rest of our team… and sneaked through the back way.. past the graves.. towards a wall where a makeshift ladder was set up. We climbed the wall… and followed a path out behind the village.. as the streets had become unbearably crowded… knowing that getting through the gates of the cemetery alone would mean a slow and long process just to get to the street which.. was now at a near standstill. We climbed the wall… and followed a path… where we saw the countryside… horses… children flying kites.. alone and away from the crowds… we followed a path that led back the streets.. where there was less congestion.. and descended the road towards our awaiting shuttle bus.

Dig Life first…

Graves and Kites

Kites Flying at Santiago


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