Santa Catarina Bobadilla Procession In Antigua Guatemala

Today was Antigua’s first procession of Lent and it was a fairly big one and consumed most of the day – from 11 am to 11 pm – to make life miserable for people who live here and hate gridlock. It’s only going to get worst.

But if you’re a tourist? There’s no better time to be in Antigua Guatemala. Check out the pictures below.

First, we checked out the flower carpet at Calle de Los Pasos, on Antigua’s east. While Antigua’s temperatures are comfortable throughout the year, the sun can be scorching at midday, which it was today.

Alfombra at Calle de los Pasos

Sawdust carpet

With sawdust carpet, the trick is to keep the sawdust moist. Once it dries up, sawdust will easily blow away, ruining the alfombra’s design. The job of the waterboy is to constantly spray the carpet until it’s ready to be trampled on.

Calle de los pasos

Seems like a fun thing to do…

About a half hour ahead of schedule, the first section of the procession arrived.

roman soldiers, procession

I bet they were miserable standing under the sun…

The first anda (image platform) wasn’t as big as others I’ve seen, but it was very well done. The people at Santa Catarina Bobadilla definitely know how to do processions and top-notch displays.

Santa Catarina procession

Santa Catarina’s Anda

Antigua Guatemala Processions


I was surprised to see children carrying this anda, as it wasn’t announced it was a children’s procession. My guess is that it’s not labeled as a children’s procession unless the and is strictly carried by children the entire length of the designated route.

Children carrying anda

Children carrying anda

While anyone, provided you can pay the fee and purchase a robe, can sign up to be a cucuruchoanda carrier – the job of a timonel – steers anda –  is not one to be taken lightly and usually requires years of experience carrying an anda.  In fact, many timoneles, once they acquire the post, spend years doing the same job. They are the ones that coordinate how fast/slow an anda goes, the rhythm, and keeps an eye out for power cables and annoying photographer that set up in front of them, disrupting their rhythm. The best ones are said to not even need to push or pull an anda – just a few words often will do.

Timonel steering the anda


Incense bearers

Incense bearers

Drums at the procession

Drum section

After anda bearers have trampled a flower carpet and moved on, it’s the job of the cleanup crew tailing behind the procession to clean up any alfombra debris left on the street.

cleaning crew for processions

Cleanup crew

Because we live along the route of Santa Catarina Bobadilla’s procession, we got to see it again upon its return to its home church. This gave me the chance to photograph more alfombras.

sawdust alfombra

Sawdust carpet

Alfombra fruit art

Interesting fruit art

nighttime alfombra

A simpler alfombra

Jesus Nazareno de la Salvación

Jesus Nazareno de la Salvación

Virgen de Dolores, Santa Catarina Bobadilla

Virgen de Dolores, Santa Catarina Bobadilla

Procession, Virgen de Dolores

Procession, Virgen de Dolores, Santa Catarina Bobadilla

As with every procession, a band trails the main anda and plays funeral marches.

Processional music

Funeral marching music

Traditional Guatemalan Food

Tonight, food vendors came out in droves to the plaza in front of Calvario church. I had the opportunity to try buñuelos, a dessert that’s served traditionally during Lent, but because they’re so delicious they’re easily found year-round at most street fairs.

Street vendor selling bunuelos

Vendor frying buñuelos

Buñuelos are fried dough balls, but unlike doughnuts, they’re crispy on the outside and very soft inside. They’re typically served hot and drenched in a light honey, cinnamon and anise syrup. Tasty!

Up next is a vigil on Wednesday, in Los Llanos, Jocotenango, in a church I’ve never heard of before. Shouldn’t be hard to find – I’ll just go where the vendors are.


More Holy Week photos here.




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