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UPAVIM Guatemala Tour Part 4: San Antonio Palapo

Our UPAVIM Guatemala Tour journey continues on Day 6 with an exciting tour of  San Antonio Palapo.  

San Antonio Palapo Tour: Day 6 (March 1, 2024):

We wake up on a beautiful and sunny day in San Antonio Palopó, where some of us rise early to enjoy the breathtaking lakeside and volcanic scenery.




Once everyone is ready to begin today's adventures, we journey to our partners at Ceramica Mayan, who produce our hand-painted ceramic beauties.

Here, we get to see the process of how our planters, vases, mugs, and other ceramic pieces are made from start to finish. First, they mix three types of clay, which is sourced from the department, and water, and pour the mixture into a handmade mold. The clay covers the mold, and after 3 hours, the perfect piece is extracted. Then the ceramic is dried for three days. Next, the raw piece is put into an oven and baked for 3 hours. Once it is cooled, it is coated in a white glaze, painted, coated with another layer of white glaze, and then baked a second time for 9 hours. Some specialized pieces are made by another set of artisans using a wheel and cutters. Once that's complete, the dried clay pieces are placed into a furnace to be fired. 

After we say our goodbyes to Ceramica Mayan and grab a bite to eat, we continue on to Dona Francisca and her mother Santa, a couple of local weavers who were kind enough to spend some time sharing their culture with us. We were introduced to the tocoyal, the traditional Guatemalan hair band, and the historic technique of the backstrap and petal looms. 
On our way back to the hotel for the evening, we were lucky to be in town on the 3rd Friday of Lent. Local Catholics were preparing several “alfombras” which are sand or saw dust decorations elaborately crafted using molds on the street. Look how meticulously they plan out each color, shape, and placement, by using ladders to move above the art piece without disturbing the delicate grains of sand. Once prepared and after mass, the procession de via Cruz starts, where men dress as cucuruchos in purple robes and carrying “andas,” or large statues depicting religious scenes. The cucuruchos carry the platforms over the sand/sawdust art. In San Antonio, they slowly voyage around the church 14 times to represent the "14 estaciones de lent". We watched one procession, but the entire event went long into the night, with men taking turns carrying the platform.