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religious fervour

I arrive back in San Jose in time for one of its major annual religious fiestas. The figures in the local Catholic church are spruced up and decorated and taken on a litter through the streets down to the dock. From there they taken by lancha to the church in Flores to be blessed. Figures are brought from churches all over Peten to congregate in Flores on this day.

Bearing the statues through the streets.

Waiting to board the lancha.

On the water...

The boat hugs the shore and stops first at the neighbouring village where it is supposed to be joined by the faithful of San Andres. However, last year, I am told, San Andres broke with centuries of tradition and left before the boats from San Jose arrived. Nobody is sure what will happen this year.

When we arrive an empty boat is at the dock but no-one else is to be seen. Eventually a shouted message inform us that the San Andres contingent isn’t planning on leaving for another hour or two and so our small flotilla heads out across the open water of the lake towards Flores.

It’s a noisy affair. There are three boats. One bearing the statues accompanied by the women and children of the church, who periodically raise their voices in song. The second vessel bears a group of young men armed with a endless supply of noisy short fused explosives. The third boat, on which I have managed to squeeze, contains the university study group from South Dakota and their teachers.

Bang...

...bang.

It's all about...

... Rambo, in the boy's boat.

The woman and children in the other boats are all dressed in their Sunday best.

The flotilla from San Andres actually reaches San Jose only minutes after that of San Jose bearing a statue of Jesus as a fisherman.

These figures are not great art works in the classic sense but they are clearly well loved. Fish on handmade springs - it's all in the details.

San Miguel arrives from another settlement.

The noisy procession bearing the religious icons of churches from all over Peten ...

...marches across the bridge from Santa Elena and winds its way up the hill to the church.

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