Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Friday on the Rio Dulce


Easter celebrations on the river, cover the gamut of possibilities. My first visit here in 1989 as crew on a friends sailboat has been quiet and almost serene. I actually do not remember seeing an outboard engine on the river in those days, but now? It's like any holiday on any river or lake in the USA but a bit more dangerous and the sights are more unusual.
We heard of a religious procession of boats, carrying a statue of Jesus and Mary, followed by many boats filled with the faithful, the night before. Dorothy awaited them with camera ready. I did not know what to expect, but thought it would be less than what it turned out to be. Apparently they start in town, get onto boats and proceed down one side of the river for a ways, then come back on the other side, stopping frequently and blessing any small gathering they see.

The priest in all his vestments, read from a prayer list held for him by a gentle looking follower. The boat was decorated as would a float in a parade. A longer Dug Out Canoe (yup, made from one log), was the platform for Mary....and about 30/mostly Mayan worshipers.

Remember: You can click on any photo on this site to ENLARGE it.

Other long boats, short boats, fat boats, slow boats and fast boats, maneuvered around in a pack from one stop to the next. Some were tired, sunburned and probably thirsty, while others stood with hands outstretched, eyes closed and praying loudly in unison with the priest.

The carvings were excellent and it is usual for these statues to be paraded in religious parades often throughout the year.

The number of Mayans in some of the Long Cayugas might have been close to 50, but I never saw a life preserver. Guessing of course, but I also guess most of them do not swim.

God protects.

It was quiet during the procession, which took several hours, I'm sure, but afterwards and all week long, the river was alive with activity. Sorry to say, the mechanical 8' mosquito, the PWC has found it's way here too. Fathers with children, whole families, one or 4 at a time or 1 or 2 towing 1-4 on air inflated wings, rafts or banana shaped floats, began their madness at early breakfast(for most humans) and stopped after darkness. "AFTER!!"

Everything from sport fishes, to PWC's and from 50' long dug outs to 8' long dug outs with fishermen plying their hand lines had to share the surface. The only road coming in and out of town over the massive German built bridge, was slow...packed with cars, trucks and buses. Slow, because there is no traffic control here. They stop right on the bridge to take photos, eat lunch or as seen this weekend....set up a Bungee Jumping concession! Oh, I did not mention the boat towing a swimmer/with life vest/but up a few hundred feet in a parachute.

Yes, it was a heck of a week. The rich and famous/even with helicopters flying guests in and out of their compounds and the middle class's exuberant shenanigans and excess toys came down to the river to party. The rest came also do their darnedest to party as well as the richest.

It was a Good Friday and now, it's a Good Monday...all is quiet again.

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