Holy Week, Occidente Style

Holy Week was last week. (I’m sure you knew this and are having a blast finishing up the last of your easter candy… I am very jealous.) In an effort to integrate and make up for the fact that I won’t be in site for much of May (have I mentioned I’m making a trip home? Baby sis is graduating from college!) I decided to spend Holy Week in site. Plus, I had heard that they put on a particularly good dramatization of the crucifixion, so I was intrigued. They didn’t disappoint.

Clockwise from top left: 1. Jesus (don’t worry, the blood is fake. however that is a real wood cross he is dragging) 2. The giant muni (seriously, there is 1/3 the population of santa cruz but a muni building 4x as big) housing Pilatos and a plethora of guards 3. Guard on horseback 4. The crucifixion 5. The angry masses

Being a non-churchgoer, I am not particularly familiar with the story of the passion of the christ, so I learned a lot during the 2 hour ordeal. Then, since I hadn’t quite reached my quota of cultural experiences I walked to the next town (don’t worry, the towns are right next to each other, just a quick jaunt over the bridge!) to watch people throw oranges at each other.

Clockwise from top left: 1. The fight takes place in front of the town church between two teams of citrus chuckers 2. Even though they had a nice big plaza to play in, the fight seemed to gradually move closer to the spectators (including me) in the street 3. Ammo 4. By the end of the fight the oranges were everywhere… I grabbed one to take home and eat.

No, I don’t know why they throw oranges at each other. I tried asking multiple people but the only answer I got was, “Es el costumbre de acá.” Basically, “it’s the tradition round these parts.” Only men seemed to be participating and it lasted for about an hour. And I don’t know how they did it. I got hit in the shins and feet with a few stray oranges and have to say that flying oranges can inflict some serious injury. Well, actually, come to think of it, I do know how some of them did it: they were drunk.  There were quite a few stumbling participants who took great joy in targeting the various gringos participating.

You would think that that would have been quite enough weekend excitement, but the town had one more activity up their sleeves. Palo encebado. You remember palo encebado (greasy pole) perhaps from my first independence day here? Well, this one was pretty much the same deal. Except for at the end instead of giving up the men cheated to get the prize.

Left to Right: 1. Usually using rope is prohibited… 2. They did variations of this for about an hour and a half before resorting to cheating 3. Ladder AND a stick.

I think something else happened Sunday morning (I heard music and fireworks) but it was 5 am so I went back to sleep. I don’t take integration that seriously.

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