Category Archives: Travel & Viajar Ideas

Easter Traditions in Antigua, Guatemala


Could this be the most colorful Easter Tradition ever?  During Lent and Easter Week in Antigua, Guatemala there is some amazing color fabulousness going on!  Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is the time when Guatemalan Catholics take to the streets in Antigua and create gorgeous carpets made of colored sawdust, flowers and even fruit,  to show their devotion and faith.  Later on, processions of people carrying huge floats and led by priests will walk over the carpets.  You can find some history and interesting facts about these traditions here on Revue Magazine.

I don’t have any personal photos of these carpets, but have found a few links for you to check out.   over at has some cool articles and photos of this season, and check out the Home page for up-to-date articles and photos about the Lent processions.

Here are some of the fabulous carpets (found on

Easter week in Antigua Guatemala easterweek-5 easterweek-6 holy-week-antigua-guatemala1

To see some more, really awesome photos, check out this set of photos:

Now that I am more into photography than I was as a teenager, I’d love to go back for Semana Santa and photograph EVERYTHING about these amazing works of art!!  Someday……. 🙂

My Profession by Birth.


That’s sounds weird….profession by birth.  It’s something (some sort of app) that I’ve seen going around on facebook lately.  I don’t know what you type in, but it will spit our what your “profession by birth” should have been.  I don’t have to do that to know…I just saw a video posted on fb that confirmed it to me:

I should have been a VULCANOLOGIST…… in Guatemala of course.

I know it.

I know that sounds funny for someone who pants and puffs all the way to the corner store, much less up a volcano (anyways, I’d get there by helicopter!).  But, amazingly enough, I did make it up the side of the Fuego Volcano several times (that’s the volcano erupting in the photos) when I was young ;).  Wow, what experiences!!  I’ll never forget my dad shouting at us to come back down the final cone when the rocks shooting out of the crater were starting to land behind us instead of in front of where we were climbing!!  Good times, good times!

(photo from Canal Antigua)

I know, it’s not good times for the people who live at the foot of the volcano, all that ash and stuff.  My sympathies to them.  It’s not a “totally unexpected occurance”.  You know it’s different there…people are more fatalistic than here….they’d say, guess that’s life in the LAND OF THE VOLCANO, especially when you live at the foot of a”live” active one…and it’s like, in your backyard.

I’ve been thinking so much about Guate.  I was showing my daughter a video on youtube of a beauty pagent where all the girls were wearing the traditional costumes of their “province” or department in Guatemala, and the show hadn’t even started, just the marimba music, and I was saying “that’s the traditional music of Guatemala…waaaaaaaaaaah!”  Suddenly I burst into tears.  I was trying to choke it down so she wouldn’t notice, and turn it into a strangled laugh, but I had to leave the room and couldn’t stop crying.  No, I’m not expecting.  Just homesick, I guess.  Seeing all these Antigua and Volcano photos doesn’t help, either!! 🙂

AntiguaDailyPhoto posted this link on facebook to a 24 hour marimba radio program today: Radio Marimba

I’ll see if I can control my tears today.

Maybe when I’m an old lady, I’ll study vulcanology……

totally crazy roadtrip tow truck trip


Posting about road trips yesterday helped me recall a really fun road trip story.  Totally one worth remembering (and posting about 🙂 ).

This story ends in a truly magical moment.  But first, the setup:

The story begins at a beach, a lovely hot beach with black sand on the Pacific coast of Guatemala.  It was just after the Christmas rush and we were vacationing there with many of our dear relatives.  After 3 days of sun and seafood, it was time to drive back up to the capital city.  We packed ourselves into 2 vehicles and started the drive back in the afternoon.  On the way, we came upon a big detour, complete with traffic jams and police vehicles.  Apparently there had been a huge explosion at a plant down the road aways, and traffic was now being directed up the “old road to the capital”.

The story:  At this point we started climbing a bit on the winding road.  We passed a car that was stopped (they had stopped in front of a farm and were apparently going up the driveway to get help) and Henry (who grew up in this country) said “Wow, this is sure a bad spot to have car trouble, especially when it’s getting dark!!”  I really really wished that he hadn’t said that.  A strange uneasiness gripped me.  I kid you not, ten minutes later our vehicle stalled and died.  Totally dead.  And it was getting dark.

We had been driving behind the other vehicle, so I fumbled around to find one of various cell phones to call Henry’s dad ahead of us to let him know that we were stopped.  The car was on an incline, but we choked right in front of the entrance to a farm or estate, so we were able to roll off the road a bit (no shoulders on this narrow, two way road).  Henry said that usually this was a very lonely road, with a bad reputation for thieves and hijackings.  Today there was a lot of traffic because of the detour.  I felt so much better…

And then, to really make me feel really panicky, the police show up.  I scramble to call and let Henry’s dad know that.  You may not understand the panic that you can feel about having the police show up unless you are a criminal or you have driven in Latin America.  Let’s just say it’s nothing like the feeling I get when I see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police…..I’m afraid that corruption is rampant in Central/South America…

But wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles….they helped us out!!  I can’t remember the technical details of what was wrong with the vehicle, but it was NOT starting again and there was nothing we could do, so the friendly police officers hitched our vehicle to their pickup. (notice how close the speeding traffic was to us).   Notice in this next photo how one officer helped with the hitching, and the other stood guard on the other side of the road with a large gun.They could only give us a tow to a more level spot that was off the road, where we could wait for a tow truck.  My sister-in-law was taking all the photos, since the kids and I were not supposed to get out of the car….so no one would see the “foreigners”.Henry’s parents said that they had never seen police be so very helpful before.  Truly it was a miracle.

Here we are being pulled up the hill.

The climax:  The helpful policemen left us infront of a closed (abandoned??) shop (or something) on a rather lonely-looking piece of highway.  There was still traffic whizzing by once in a while, but it was getting really dark, and we had to wait for a tow truck to come from Antigua.  So we waited.  Darkness fell quickly.  All sorts of scary thoughts danced around in my head.  Really, you can’t understand unless you’ve been there!!  And the thing I’ll never forget is seeing my mother-in-law sitting out in the twilight with some large stones in her hands, singing and keeping watch over us!

There was a heart-stopping moment after we had been waiting in the dark for (almost) hours, when a black vehicle pulled into the “shoulder” in front of us.  As someone mentioned later, if they had wanted to help, they would’ve slowed beside us, rolled down the window and asked if we needed help.  It looked very suspicious…but who knows why, they paused, then drove off.

Finally finally the tow truck appeared.  (Did I mention that I was kept busy trying to keep 4 tired, sweaty, hungry kids from beating each other up inside the car this whole time?  We scrounged around and found some chocolate covered cookies to eat and some chip crumbs.)  And now for…..

The big excitement:  We had to RIDE ON THE TOW TRUCK!!  There was no where else to put everyone.  So the man said, “We’re really not supposed to do this…but oh well, hold on!”  I thought we’d be towed by the front wheels, but much to my surprise….We were being carried!  That’s me waving out the window!My other sister-in-law came up to my window and said “Is this enough excitement for you, Denna??!”I replied that I hadn’t been asking for excitement, I had just been pointing out that my life in Canada was pretty boring, not like life in Guatemala.  Really, it wasn’t my fault, I hadn’t been asking for it!!

Ready to roll!

We were off!!  Something I knew we’d never get to do in Canada: riding in our vehicle on top of a tow truck!! Only in Latin America!  What a bouncy ride!

I felt a bit bad later, when I found out how much everyone in the other vehicle worried about our safety when they saw how much we were jiggling around!  But we….had a blast!!

The magical moment:  We opened the sunroof and blasted the music as we looked up at the stars!  We were listening to the album “All things Bright and Beautiful” by Owl City….which turned out to be our theme music for our whole trip to Guatemala (a gift from our cousins in Texas on the way down).  We all enjoyed it, from the 5 year old, to the thirty-something and the forty-something year old…

As the CD player blasted out “Galaxies” Henry and I  leaned our heads back and watched the stars swirl around, as we held hands and listened to the kids singing along…it was a truly magical moment.

And it was a very bouncy, long ride!!  We had to drive right through Antigua, which has all cobblestone streets, so that was really really bouncy! And by that point, I had to go to the bathroom really really badly.  And Diego’s ear had begun to ache again (ear infection).  When we stopped at a gas station, we all hunkered down inside the car on top of the tow truck so no one would see that we were in there!  It was fun to drive through Guatemala city with all the lights and signage flashing past as we jolted along.  Eventually we stopped and our brother-in-law picked us up and took us to an aunt’s house, where we ended the night with pizza and cake!

I tried to take some photos from the back of the tow truck, but none of them turned out, and then my camera battery died.  I just have to imagine that moment of seeing thousands of stars and of feeling the earth spin (as we wound around corners), and then seeing old buildings and ancient ruins as we jerked down the cobblestone streets.  Not to mention the tight squeeze in those narrow roads as highly decorated buses scraped by us!  Ahh…what a moment!

Here’s a video of one of the songs that we were belting out as we bounced along….and it gives a good impression of our crazy road trip on the back of a tow truck!! enjoy, as I remember….

The video also goes along with my road trip post from yesterday….and yes! that’s the DeLorean from Back to the Future!

road trip: the best/worst of days…

road trip: the best/worst of days…

I look forward to road trips with my family…it’s something I usually enjoy.  But the day before yesterday was…different.

How is it possible to giddily join the singalong one moment, then in the next, feel like pounding your head repeatedly against the windshield?  Hmmm…I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at those feelings…. on an 8 hour drive in a minivan with 4 kids and 2 adults + loads of luggage, books, snacks, ipods, toys, papers, orange peels and apple cores….but I was a bit surprised anyways.  Like I said, usually things go fairly calmly.  But yesterday there was a certain edge to it all.  Maybe it was the 2 weeks of staying up later than usual at Grandpa’s house, or eating all those delicious meals (including dessert) that Grandma made for us.  Maybe it was the sadness of leaving them.  Maybe it was the thought of returning home and to school the next day.  Maybe it was the quantity of gummies and chocolates and jellybeans that were constantly being consumed in the van….

Anyways, things just felt a lot…more crazy than usual. The worst part: someone in the very back seat was especially whiny.  And there were more fights about nothing than usual.  And there were more coats and jackets thrown about everywhere.  And there were more “gadgets” to fight over who’s turn it was to play…and there were more calls of “mama, mama, she/he did….”

But at the same time, there were beautiful expanses of prairie to watch.  I love the prairies.  There were flocks of Canadian geese returning from their winter abroad.  There was melting snow in yellow fields. There were deep blue shiny icy ponds crusted in white snow.  There was wonderful music to accompany the huge, awesome sunset.  There were moments of such amazing wonderfulness, when I thought, this is it!  This is the perfect moment, and how can life get any better than this?  Feeling that you are isolated from the world, just watching the gorgeous natural landscapes flash by the window, while you are safe and warm and snug, with your husband and kids close by, singing along with your favorite music and the smell of  McD’s ketchup and Hershey’s kisses wafting up from the paper bags, and everyone content and together….

Ok, I just love those moments.  Those ones.

We listen to a lot of fun music on our road trips. A mix of practically everything: salsa, classical, bachata, ballads, Spanish, swing, electronica, Italian, Gospel, techno, and from everyone from  Frankie, Gypsy Kings, the 2 Luises, la Jaci, Buble, to Elvis in a UFO.  And once in awhile we listened to a story.

This trip had more than the usual number of “stops”.  There was the regular gas station one.  Then later, while I was drifting off into dreamland, one of our tires blew out.  So that meant a quick tire-change on the gusty almost-freezing shoulder of the highway.  Then later, a quick stop to help the smallest one relieve herself by the side of the road (I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically through the whole process)…then later another stop, this one was a “don’t make me stop this car!” type (really quite effective). The last stop was to pick up deliciously greasy food to eat in the van, I always enjoy that!  Especially when no one dumps their drink or hamburger  in their (or someone else’s) lap.  Without honestly meaning to, I ate up almost all the fries in about 3 minutes….funny how that happens.  Oh, and I can’t not mention that no one upchucked anything!  That was the really great part!

I guess it all works together to create part of a family’s history.  Kind of like that cliche (but true) saying “Life is made up of moments”. I haven’t forgotten my “moments” memories of road trips with my family, when it was dark outside and we were all singing together, even Dad, and keeping an eye out for deer and other wildlife to (not) cross the road.  And that same feeling of happiness, snugness, and togetherness.

Something I love/hate about a roadtrip is obsessively snapping photos from the window of our moving vehicle.  I just can’t seem to help myself; I feel cranky if I don’t (“look at that wonderful shot I missed!”) and cranky if I do (“look at that wonderful shot I messed up!”)  I love driving through the prairies, and I love to try and get photos of it, though mine never seem to do justice to the gorgeous subtleties in color…

Anyways, here are a bunch of photos I took on our trip.  Our windshield was very dirty, with lots of bird droppings, and I wouldn’t open the window, because it was so cold!  These have been touched up a bit, and I must say, I wasn’t as disappointed as I usually am with my (moving & thru a windshield) photographic tries…

I love the geese, but wasn’t fast enough to capture any in flight…there is one in the above photo, surprise!  I did get a photo of this mass of seagulls instead…I love looking at all the towns along the way.And then there was our little mishap:uh oh! Henry had it fixed really quick, though.the river valleys are beautiful, especially with their light dusting of snow..Buffalo Pound….(these photos aren’t in order, as this is fairly close to Moose Jaw)Another sight we see in spring:the water was really this blue, I loved the contrast with the almost Oreo-brown-and-white of the fields…

Here’s the only (?) mountain in Saskatchewan (heehee), Blackstrap Mountain (man-made with a ski lift)…see it?this is where we stopped for a “potty-stop”….so this wasn’t taken through a window…

as Dean Martin crooned yesterday during the sunset of our trip….”Memories are made of this….”

Ok, ok, after playing around with my photos, and posting about it all here, the headaches and teeth-grinding moments of the trip have really faded out of my memory…..when’s our next road trip? 🙂