This is an amazing post. Or possibly it´s just an insufficient reflection of a really amazing day. Either way, in this post you will find my cultural take on Guatemala´s Day of the Dead, see the biggest kites you have ever seen, and hear about one of the strangest foods in the world.
Putting a video so early in the post makes it seem like I´m giving up too much too early. On Monday, I had a chance to go to Festival de Sumpango de los Barriletes Gigantes. Instead of looking up barrilete in my Spanglish dictionary, I decided to hold out until I got there to figure out what a barrilete was exactly. As you can see in the video, the town of Sumpango comes together and teams of 30-50 young people start building intricate and colorful 75ft tall kites in July to display in the festival. Some of the smaller kites (still huge at 20ft!) are flown, and a competition is held to see which ones stay afloat (also check out the video to see which ones didn´t).
You may be wondering, like me, if there is any cultural tradition behind this beautiful exhibition. As it turns out, Day of the Dead is the one day that Guatemalans believe that their ancestors pass from the grave and roam free, visiting their old homes. Kites are flown to communicate with their ancestors, and the noise the kite´s long tails make is believed to scare away bad spirits.
And everyone on this day (besides visiting the cemetery and their ancestors), eats fiambre. Fiambre is a cold dish because originally it was placed on graves for their ancestors, and is made out of every type of food imaginable. Seriously. I´m talking pieces of chicken, hot dogs, 5-10 different types of sausages, anchovies, tuna, peas, green beans, pickles, cold cuts, queso fresco, beets (gives it the purple tint), corn, cabbage, and anything else you can imagine. Here is a video of the dish:
I know that kite festivals occur all over the world, but Barriletes de Sumpango is definitely one of a kind. Additionally, if you are curious about the location of Sumpango in Guatemala, check out the interactive travel map I have created for my trip under the Travel Map tab.