Friday, April 10, 2009

Semana Santa in Comayagua

Our trip to Comayagua was definitely worthwhile. If you've never been, it is a MUST see in Honduras. If anything, it's worth the trip just for the smiling, cheerful people that live there. Such a nice change from Tegucigalpa! ;)

We left Tegus around 12:30 pm on Thursday. The trip itself was pretty uneventful. Just lots of roadblocks like the one in the pic below.
There is one stretch of the highway between Tegus and Comayagua that goes for quite a while without any houses. Just pine trees and incredible views of the mountains. In fact, you almost forget you're in Honduras. It helps the homesickness. And with DMB blaring on the stereo, well, it just doesn't get any better than that. ;)
When we arrived in Comayagua, we headed straight for el centro. We figured we could walk around for a while and then find a hotel. The first thing we saw was the cathedral. It houses (according to our tour guide) the oldest working clock in the Americas. (I researched this when I got back home and can't find any reliable sources that back that claim.) It's a 16th century clock located in the bell tower of the church. The gears are on the 2nd floor of the tower. The weights fall through a hole to the first floor. The bells are on the very top floor.
the gears

the weights
view from the top of the cathedral roof
view of the park in el centro from the bell tower
After we toured all of the historical buildings, and the museum, we walked around to try to find a hotel. We wanted a hotel with air conditioning and a pool. The first one we visited, Hotel America, was very nice. But we had walked 6 blocks from where we parked. The woman at the desk said there was a room available, and we told her we would come back with Jose's wallet and the car. We came back 30 minutes later, and she had rented our room. So we went on a hunt for another hotel. In the end, we had to settle for a hotel without a pool. But it was very nice, and only L550 (around $30).
After we checked into the hotel, we went back to el centro to see the events of the evening. The first event was the reenactment of the Last Supper and Jesus' arrest.
While the Last Supper and arrest was being reenacted, the work teams started on their alfombras. These are sawdust carpets laid out in the street where the Good Friday procession walks. They work for more than 10 hours laying out these carpets, and then the next morning the procession walks right over them. There are over 40 carpets, and their purpose is to ease the pain of Jesus as he walks the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross).
first step: a layer of fine sawdust as the base
We walked around for a few hours after that waiting for the next event. It was the Procesion de Prendimiento (sorry, don't know what prendimiento is in English or in Spanish, haha). This was my favorite part of the whole trip. The entire march was carried out in complete silence. The only sound is of chains being dropped on the street. It's very eery and very cool. :)
After this procession, it was pushing midnight. So Jose and I headed back to the hotel. The next morning we woke up at 6 am and made it to el centro by 7. The work teams had made a lot of progress on the alfombras, but still weren't finished.

We waited around for a few hours until the main procession started. When it finally did, Jose and I were a little confused. You can see in the picture below that there is someone dressed up like Jesus carrying a cross. But there are also 3-4 little boys dressed up like Jesus too. And Mary was a 5 year old.

These people are not part of the KKK. Hehe...I thought the same thing. They are actually called Nazarenes, and they are members of the brotherhood of the church. These hoods represent the sinful nature of man (kind of like a dunce cap).

So this is how it goes... Jesus (and the little Jesus' too) lead the procession. Then there are altar boys that carry incense. (And it's A LOT of incense...everyone in the crowd was coughing.) They are followed by the priests and the bishop. Behind them is a choir and a brass band. Then behind them are the Nazarenes carrying an enormous "float."

At every Station of the Cross, the entire parade stops and the bishop speaks and then prays.

These are the Stations of the Cross:
1. Christ condemned to death 2. the cross is laid upon him; 3. His first fall; 4. He meets His Blessed Mother; 5. Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross; 6. Christ's face is wiped by Veronica; 7. His second fall; 8. He meets the women of Jerusalem 9. His third fall; 10. He is stripped of His garments; 11. His crucifixion; 12. His death on the cross; 13. His body is taken down from the cross; and 14. laid in the tomb.

At each Station, the parade "picks up" a new float. By the end of the parade there are a lot of floats and they reenact the crucifixion.

So you can imagine with all of these stops and songs and prayers, this parade takes forever. It goes for blocks and blocks. And it was hot. And it was sunny. And we were already sunburnt. The parade had already been going on for a couple of hours and it wasn't even close to being finished. So Jose and I made our way through the crowds and headed back to Tegus! Maybe next year we'll be able to see the crucifixion. :)


Laurie said...

Good pictures. I love Comayagua, which is where I lived first in Honduras.

Trisha and Kelly said...

I hope we can go there to see this next year. Your pics of the sawdust carpet helped me understand what you were telling me on the phone the other day. Amazing!!!

Lynette said...

Wow this is great! Yeah, the white dunce caps do remind me of KKK! Don't know if it would fly here in the States. The entire experience looks amazing. My fiance always told me that semana santa in HN is the best!

When I was planning my trip to Honduras a few years ago, my research made it seem that Comayagua was an area to avoid (very dangerous, is what I'd heard). I later found out that there's plenty of history there (I believe it used to be the capital before Tegus) I'll be going to Honduras in July and will put this on my list of places to see. Thanks!

Hannah said...

Laurie, I am so jealous that you lived in Comayagua. The people there are SO nice. Why in the world did you move to Tegus?! ;)

Lynette, You are thinking of Comayaguela as the area to avoid. It's basically the other half of Tegus, and parts of it are very dangerous. Comayagua is about an hour outside of Tegus, and is a MUST see! :)