I love to celebrate New Year’s; it’s a time for reflection, for moving forward. It’s also the culmination of a week of celebrations (Christmas, my birthday, and New Year’s). And now that I’m getting older, these days mean something more. They mean my life is getting shorter…
But they also mean that my perspective changes drastically. Each year, I’ve changed with the world around me. We learn new recipes, walk new trails in the woods, meet new people, follow new blogs, watch new tv series. We make mistakes, both professional and personal. And all of these things, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant, they change us. And that’s why I like New Year’s. That day lets me remember what I was like one year ago, and thank God that I’m not the same person anymore.
Now, on a Guatemalan note, these days of fiestas are beyond fun. Like in the U.S., most pass them rather inebriated. The fun part? They burn things, firecrackers, fireworks, sparklers and all sorts of little burnable things that we don’t even have words for in English due to their illegal nature (it is a coming of age things for boys, they start around age 5).
I was really worried about celebrating the holidays away from home, it was a big first for me. And it was sad, because although you might think that a girl who up and abandons her family has no conscience, it is not the case. Being away from my family hurt. And it made me appreciate them more.
My image of what Christmas should be like, is very small. For example, snow and sweaters and gifts and candles and trees and stockings and Nat King Cole. This year the gifts I received, were food. Is that not crazy? Paches (the traditional food). AND I did not buy a single Christmas gift! Parents usually take their kids into town to buy gifts together (but it’s normally clothes or something the kids will need). Adults to adults, no gift giving. So while a part of me missed opening presents, a bigger part of me thinks it’s great to eat a lot of food and set things on fire.
First off, Christmas in Guatemala is December 24. On ‘real’ Christmas everyone is hung over and tired. But leading up to Christmas there are ‘posadas’. The ‘posada’ is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph (Jose and Maria) looking for a place to stay. There are statues of both Jose and Maria that people carry from one house to another house. Arriving at the new house the people sing a song of Jose to the owners of the house, in the end the owners let the statues and accompanying people enter and everyone drinks hot fruit punch and the church choir keeps singing. The following night the ‘posada’ moves to a new house (this goes on from Dec. 10-24).
On the 24th I ate dinner with Cruz and her fam and then we went to mass at 8. Everyone brings the baby Jesus’ from their nativity scene to mass for the priest to sprinkle holy water on them. By 10:30 mass was over and we headed home to wait for midnight (I chose to take a nap in this time, haha). At 12 the whole town starts lighting their fireworks, and let me tell you that it’s crazy. Way bigger than any firework show finale I’ve ever seen in my life. By 12:15 it’s all over and the kids and their parents go to sleep and the teenagers keep drinking.
It was lovely and low-key, and cold.
I went on a trip. To the beach.
No need to be jealous, you too can enjoy the black beaches of Guatemala. GET A PLANE TICKET!
Some pics to insure that you get that plane ticket:
|Oh no, a wave!|
|Sea turtles making their way to the ocean!|
|5am morning boat tour! Beautiful sunrise and birds!|
And now here we are 15 days into the New Year. Hope it’s everything you wanted it to be because in a quick second it’ll be 2014…