I will start the story with the best photo I got but the story I tell isn’t the history of Alfombras… I assume they go back to the Spanish but even that I don’t know. What I saw the other day was the creativity and devotion of a community to a tradition. Each Alfombra was different and folks stayed up all night making them and used huge amounts of resources to complete them.
Now-days many of the alfombras are made with brightly dyed sawdust and stencils. These are eye-popping and beautiful but can’t compare to the creativity and natural beauty of the ones I’ll show you below.
I’m including a photo of Clara, the mother of Jeramias, who we stayed with. She is in her early 70s and is a quiet, frail-looking and unassuming person. Her role in the household is to stand at that sink, which would have been a pila only a few short years ago, and do the family dishes. I never saw her otherwise. Every woman’s life is different but the widow in every culture has a crap shoot of a life, especially if she lacks financial independence… just saying.
And, to mention how nice it was to walk around looking at them with Miranda and Diane. There were a few other foreigners out wandering the procession route too but most of the gawkers and shutter bugs were Guatemalans. Notice how this young woman isn’t wearing a corte? That is the way of the future.
While I’m still here in my mind I want to mention that I learned about my Nahual on this trip… the special time of one’s birth. I am Ixmoc, pronounced Eesh-Mok’. I also learned more about Mayan rituals for the dead and have returned with candles in the colors necessary to create my own small ritual. I am extremely grateful to learn more about the ancient ways that help satisfy the need in me to find some sort of “procedure” regarding the internment of Michael’s ashes.
The suffering of Christ and his death and the reenactment through the stations of the cross were especially mournful that morning as the effigies of Christ grew nearer. These altar boys stop to look at the nails and hammer that were part of this alfombra… perhaps they think only of the logistics of crossing through and over the objects but they are a stark reminder of man’s cruelty to man for me. Way too much unnecessary suffering in this world… the stages of life when loved and nourished at every step are hard enough!
And so the destruction of the simple beautiful and endearing alfombras, unlike other carpets, ground under the feet of the processioners and after that came an organized and hurried clean up crew. The lessons of impermanence keep rolling out their advisements as I more and more am forced to pay attention to the need to snap up beauty while I may for tomorrow the broom is coming.