What: Festival de Sumpango - Barriletes Gigantes (Giant Kites)
Where: Sumpango, Guatemala
When: November 1st - El Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)
Why? Huge, ginormous, spectacular kites!

As I wrote in Jeff Nelson's excellent piece Potluck Series: Holidays From Around the World, Sumpango, Guatemala celebrates "The Day of the Dead" in a truly unique fashion. Aside from honoring loved ones who have passed away by visiting the cemetary and decorating their graves, the people of Sumpango celebrate by constructing, displaying and (sometimes) flying enormous kites made of tissue paper (many of which are true works of art). Due to the awesomness of the festival, I felt I should provide everyone with a few more details...and LOTS OF PHOTOS!

Let me make one thing clear: They take their kites very, very serious. So serious in fact that 30+ groups from Sumpango spend up to 3-4 months making the kites in preparation for the big event. Once that day finally arrives, it goes a little something like this...

8 AM - THE CROWDS ARRIVE

No sun, no problem.


9 AM - MORE KITES ARE DISPLAYED!

(BEFORE) It takes a lot of bamboo to hoist up and display a three-story kite!



(AFTER) SUCCESS!



10 AM - MEET UP WITH FRIENDS... Go Team FAPE!

Thanks to Vilma and Carol - my fantastic tour guides and friends!



Three of FAPE's finest!...and one of Kiva's finest?


12 PM - KITES, KITES AND MORE KITES!

"The Voices from Beyond"



The view from above Sumpango


2 PM - Lunch and a quick stop at the cemetery to pay our respects

The cemetery in the middle of town decorated for "The Day of the Dead"



3 PM - TIME TO FLY! ... What goes up...

"WE'RE FLYING!!!"



,,,MUST COME DOWN. A compliation of awesome (yet slightly dangerous) kite crashes!

"Heads Up". Crash #1.


"Watch Out!!" Crash #2


10 PM: TIME TO GO HOME... aka "Take nine-hour overnight bus ride across the country."

Lessions Learned:
1) Kites are back. Well, not sure that they ever left. But I regret taking them for granted for the past 20+ years.
2) Local resources are the best! Thanks again to my awesome FAPE co-workers.
3) Halloween and El Dia de Los Muertos are a great one-two combination. No matter how you celebrate them, don't forget about your loved ones.
4) Don't forget to return your Halloween costumes. It's only November 6th - the fine won't be that bad!






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