Panajachel, Guatemala December 2017.
It started out like any other Nativity play but ended spectacularly bad.
Christmas in Guatemala is an interesting time; more or less the same as back home but also very different. The shops still push Christmas as a time for consumerism and people here still buy into it. Thankfully it’s only a short term affair, unlike back in the UK.
This was my fifth Christmas in Latin America and my fourth spent in Guatemala. It was really nice to be back with my host family in Panajachel. Magda and her family have always welcomed me with open arms, as have the staff at my Spanish language school – Jabel Tinamit.
This year I decided to spend Christmas Day in the beautiful former capital of Guatemala – Antigua – at a B&B I have stayed at before – Chez Daniel. A lovely clean, quiet place owned by an American guy and his Guatemalan wife. Antigua, remains far more than just a tourist attraction. It’s a place of rare beauty, major historical significance and vibrant culture, it’s definitely the country’s one must-visit destination.
Back to the Nativity play. The Plaza Central was full of people out to celebrate the start of the festive period with their annual play. Everybody was dressed in the usual stuff, Mary, Joseph, shepherds and kings. Also in a full costume of feathers was a beautifully adorned angel.
The final scene of the play included all of the characters and of course photos were obligatory. The mass of burning candles placed on the ground made the whole scene very atmospheric. A conscientious director warned the angel not to stand near them. Unfortunately, due to the shear number of people and the pushing and shoving, it wasn’t long before the inevitable happened and her costume brushed against one of the candles. I have never seen flames envelop so quickly. Thankfully someone had the piece of mind to rip the burning costume off the young child and a serious accident was thankfully averted. Suffice to say the play came to an abrupt end.
I hope the organisers have a rethink about things for 2018.