Let's go fly a kite... Santiago Sacatepéquez

Trip Start Sep 06, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2011

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Flag of Guatemala  , Sacatepéquez,
Monday, November 1, 2010

Today GVI went en mass to Santiago Sacatepéquez (a half hour drive from Antigua), where Guatemala’s best Día de los Muertos celebrations are held. Hand-constructed kites guide the departed souls back to life on November 1, as a link between life and death, they’re covered with
special messages and designs to the deceased, written by the living.

The barriletes gigantes truly were gigantes and the photos do them no justice. We arrived at the cemetry late morning, and just one massive kite was standing, with a couple of kites in the sky. As we wandered to the far end of the graveyard we could see more of the enormous kites being constructed on the ground. Massive bamboo poles were being lashed together behind the colourful designs, ready for the kites to be raised using pulley systems onto trees that had been stripped especially for this purpose.

As we hung around more people were arriving, and looking back from the front of the graveyard you could see hoards of people watching all the action. One by one the kites were raised, with varying degrees of success. It was heartbreaking to see one snap across the middle. It had to be abandoned. Eventually there were about 6 barriletes gigantes towering over us, and more smaller kites were making it into the air. Unfortunately on the one day of the year the residents wanted it to be windy, the weather failed to perform!

When I say smaller kites, those in the skies were bigger than any I have ever seen before, exceeding my arm span in diameter... with thick bamboo frames. My handmade kite, which I had been so proud of, really paled next to these beauties. We did however persevere with our attempts to get it flying and got it (almost) to a respectable height. I had hoped to lose it high in the skies, but it kept finding it's way back, and is here on the wall in the house looking only a little worse for wear. Hopefully I'll take it somewhere else to fly another time.

The day was amazing, and if I were able to go again I would stay to watch the sun set and the remainder of the day's kite action.
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