The following day is the real holiday here. A tradition arose from a combination of Mayan and Catholics belief that the spirits of dead relatives can be reached or communicated with by kite. So many people go stand on their families graves and fly kites. One place where this is most popular Santiago Sacatepequez. A long, stretched out city up in the highlands, the cemetery is on the side of a cliff on the edge of town, and the winds are ideal for kite-flying.
|Giant kite flying over the cemetery at Santiago|
Becky's organization has lots of service teams that come down and do work for a week or so, but these groups also like to get out and see the sites. Since it was a holiday and no work, we went with one of these groups and some of her co-workers out to Santiago to be a part of the celebration. It was crowded, but really fun. Many of the kites are so large, the laws of physics must lay down and weep as the kites defiantly find some way to take to the skies. It was kind of weird to be walking in a crowd over dead peoples. Many of the graves had stone or cement tombs, but many also were nothing more than a pile of dirt. Those were the really weird ones.
Walking past the family style masoleum-type graves.
Marigolds spread over some of the dirt graves.
|An above ground tomb makes a good spot to view or fly kites|
Another kite waiting to take flight.
Later that afternoon we went to another nearby town, Sumpango. Not nearly as much walking to get the action here (thankfully). Instead of a cliff side cemetery, the activities here were located in a large open arena, kind of looked like a rodeo. There were stands for an audience along one side, and food vendors lined up along the opposite. Here it was more like an exposition. The kites were enormous, many over ten meters in diameter. Most were made by groups of people over the course of the year, mainly from bamboo and paper. An announcer would say who made each kite as they sent it flying into the air. When it landed they would put it up on bracers, creating a kind of kite-forest, which was really interesting to walk through. This place was even more like a festival, something akin to a state fair in the mid-west.
|The Kite Forest|
|An ornate kite exhibited in Sumpango|
A fun day!