Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Our first funeral
Johnny and I attended our first funeral in Guatemala yesterday, for the mother of our pastor in Panajachel. In Antigua we lived a block from the local cemetery and had seen many funerals and the following processions. But yesterday, we experienced it first hand. The service was held in Solola, at the evangelical church there. After a moving service (the pastor lost his father 4 months ago), we prepared for the processional. Thankfully, I had worn shoes comfortable for walking because the processional was from the church to the cemetery (about 1/2 mile). For those of you that have been here, remember the brightly colored cemetery you can see as we traveled from the Camp to Pana everyday? That's the one! Everyone walks behind the casket as it is carried by family and friends. The parade we made stopped all traffic (even the buses!) as we spread from one side of the street to the other. The pallbearers stopped periodically and swapped out, male and female alike. Many of the women were in typical Mayan dress but a few of us were dressed Western style. It was strange to see some of the daughters wearing spike heels and carrying the casket! (I half expected someone to turn an ankle). Also the day was hot with no clouds and only a slight breeze, so people would dart into stores as we passed and buy water or soft drinks. After another short service at the cemetery (standing in the sun), all walked back to the church for lunch. It is always interesting to see the differences in cultures and makes me realize how ethnocentric one can become if you are never exposed to them. Things are not necessarily better or worse - just different.