At 4 am we were awoken by the pounding of drums. We thought that maybe it was in celebration of the finishing of the carpet so we threw on some clothes and went outside. It turns out that the carpet wasn't yet complete, but it was well underway. Lots had been done but a few stencils still needed to be placed. Marco saw us and smiled. He asked in Spanish if we slept much as he noticed us there til very late and then again so early in the morning. We laughed and said no. He asked how long we were in town, etc. He then asked if we wanted to help make the carpet! We couldn't believe it. Craig got set up with a plastic spoon and some purple sawdust. When he was done with the purple, he asked if I could help, and Marco said yes. So I did some red triangles. We were so excited that we got to participate!! The carpet was finished at around 5:15 am. It was rather anticlimactic since we had expected some type of fanfare. But people just seemed tired and relieved to have finished.
We headed to La Merced for the 6 am procession. On the way there we passed many other newly-finished or nearly-finished carpets. One little boy was asleep in a wheelbarrow while his family completed their sawdust carpet. We arrived outside the church entrance just before the float emerged. It was a huge float being carried by 80 people, with 50 different change-ups throughout the day. There was an adorable little girl sitting on her parents' shoulders, watching the procession in wide-eyed wonder.
After the procession passed by, we walked back for breakfast at La Fuenta. Craig had huevos rancheros again and I had the the Americano (scrambled eggs and bacon). I was exhausted and we went back to the hotel for a nap. It was only 9 o'clock in the morning and yet it felt like late night. On the way back to the hotel we were accosted by a little girl who called us names for not buying something from her.
We took an hour nap and were awoken by the sound of a brass band at around 10:30 am. We rushed downstairs to the balcony, smelling incense all the way. We were hoping that the procession hadn't passed in front of the hotel yet. We got to the balcony just in time. We had a great vantage point as the procession approached the hotel. It's hard to describe, but I felt close to tears as the procession trampled the carpet. The fact that everyone had worked so hard on the carpet itself, and that the penitents were carrying such heavy floats really moved me.
We ran into our young friend from yesterday, and we had a nice conversation. Her name is Maria Jose and she is from Merida, Yucatan. She is 14 years old. She was visiting Antigua with her grandmother for Easter. She invited us to Merida and said that her house was our house. She was so sweet and genuinely enjoyed practicing speaking English with us. She was very good at translating ideas even when she didn't know the proper words. Then we saw Marco and he smiled and shook our hand. He formally introduced himself to us while pulling out a set of keys. He then invited us through a secret door up to the roof for a fantastic view of the city. Maria and her grandmother came up to the roof with us as well. We had a great chat with them and then went back downstairs and met up with Gerry and Judy.
We went with Gerry and Judy to Quesos y Vino for lunch. Craig and I split a lasagna. It was very good. Then Gerry went back to the hotel and we went with Judy to Nim Po't for some shopping. We bought a little Maximon statue, a hacky sack for our nephew, some little dolls, a head kerchief, etc. We went back to the hotel and showered, getting ready to meet everyone at 3:00 for a procession. No one met us at the planned time, but luckily we ran into Beverly and David who told us that everyone else had decided not to go to the procession after all. It was kind of a shame, because it was Good Friday and after 3 pm all of the people in the processions would change their robes from purple to black. Fortunately we did see some of these processions from a distance but we didn't bother getting too close and into the crowds.
We looked for a place to download our photos in case of a camera disaster but had no luck at the photo places. But we went to the Funky Monkey expat internet cafe (literally right next door to our hotel) where they served beer, etc. We sent and received email, and it turned out that they could download our pictures for us. It was kind of comforting to be in there at that time. They were playing everything from Ray Charles to old Black Sabbath music.
We went back to the hotel and met up with the group at 7 o'clock. The stations of the cross were lit up and they were processing around the Parque Central. We walked to a very nice hotel named The Elton and were about to be seated indoors. It was quite stuffy and hot inside so they brought us out by the gorgeous pool with floating candles and flower petals. The drinks were very expensive here. A single drink cost more than some of our meals so we decided not to stay here for a night of dinner and drinks. Here we met up with one of Andre's friends who was very nice but unfortunately we couldn't recall his name later that evening and it never made it into our journal.
From there the whole group headed to a strange combination of Argentinean steak house and Chinese restaurant, which was called Taurito Pinto/Lai Chi. The waiters only spoke Spanish and we were having a rather difficult time trying to communicate with them. I ordered white wine and they told us they didn't have any. Frustrated trying to get wine I simply ordered bottled water. They told me they didn't have any of that either(?!) So they brought me a small expensive bottle of red wine instead. Craig and I each got beef shish kebab. It was delicious, and there was a ton of food. We headed back to the hotel and sat up talking by candle light with our new Maximon statue set up like a little table-top shrine.