Giant Kites

Santiago Sacatepequez Travel Blog

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My sisters on the way to the cemetery

November 1st is All Saints Day in Guatemala. This day is used to conmemorate the dead. There are three traditions for this day.

1. Food: Guatemalans prepare Fiambre for this date. Fiambre is a salad made from cold cuts, all kinds of meats, fish, vegetables and pickled vegetables, is served on November 1st, after a visit to the cemetery. Fiambre is a cold meal of Spanish origin, possibly from the Extremadura provinces in Spain. Fiambre is a very special meal for Guatemalans and it is only available on November 1st and 2nd.

2. Dead People: Guatemalans use this day to go to the cemetery and take care of their loved ones. Tombs are painted in bright colors, flowers and even food are deposited as on offering to dead relatives

3.

A giant kite on it´s way to the cemetary
Festivals: There are two big festivals on this day. One is in Todos Santos and involves a horse race in wich all the men in town race from one end to the track to the other, then drink some alcohol and race back. Then they drink again and so on...  As the alcohol starts to take effect more an more men fell from their horse and get disqualified. The race goes on until there is only one man on a horse and he is declared the winner.    The othe big festival is the one in Santiago which is where we went. Families and friends get together and work for six months to create the giant kites that will be flown on this day. The kites range from 20 to 50 feet wide and are made from tissue paper and bamboo reeds. Kites under 20 feet in diameter are flown over the town cemetery later in the day and are believed to be a vehicle for speaking with the souls of departed loved ones.
Giant kites flying
The flying kites are representative of the floating spirits of the dead.

We arrived at Santiago at 3:30 pm and the town was already packed. We parked the car in the outskirst of town and started walking towards the cemetery. Along the way the atmosphere was festive with thousands of people walking and all sorts of stands selling everything from cheap plastic toys to all sorts of food. The best was probably the grilled corn cob with salt and lime (yummy).

We met Christian and Oralia at the cemetery. Most of the kites were already flying and the place was packed. Since there is not really a lot of space in the cemetary people stand wherever they can. I was surprised when I look closely because a lot of people were standing in this small mounds of earth that were recently created. Most likely someone was buried there recently.

We had a great time observing a group of friends trying to elevate their kite. The wind wasn´t that strong and they tried at least three times with results consisting mostly of a few seconds of fly time followed by an spectacular free fall crash. Nevertheless we had a great time seeing the kites and sampling the food. My respects to Oralia for trying (and liking) all the food that was offered to her.

Check out the pictures!

xiaoyingchen says:
Amazing kites. It must take people months to make them. Nice story and pictures.
Posted on: Nov 06, 2007
don_moats says:
Awesome kites! I'd love to give the drinking game a whirl. Couldn't image being drunk on a horse; sounds like it could be fun.
Posted on: Nov 05, 2007
c_castro1 says:
Abbie wants to go here next year. I guess you'll have to plan another trip...
Posted on: Nov 03, 2007
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My sisters on the way to the cemet…
My sisters on the way to the ceme…
A giant kite on it´s way to the c…
A giant kite on it´s way to the …
Giant kites flying
Giant kites flying
Giant kites at the cemetary
Giant kites at the cemetary
More giant kites
More giant kites
The crowd at the cemetery
The crowd at the cemetery
More kites...
More kites...
Oralia and Christian at the cemete…
Oralia and Christian at the cemet…
My sisters, Oralia and Christian p…
My sisters, Oralia and Christian …
Flags on kites.
Flags on kites.
Christian at Santiago. Notice the …
Christian at Santiago. Notice the…
The theme of this one is Global Wa…
The theme of this one is Global W…
Kite in action. The little kite at…
Kite in action. The little kite a…
Fiambre
Fiambre
Santiago Sacatepequez
photo by: SaffaAussie