I've fallen a bit behind on this blog. Shocker. Last weekend was very quiet. On Sunday I went over to visit my neighbor volunteers in Cunen, Melissa and Kate. The basico school (junior high equivalent) in Cunen was having a very fancy beauty pageant. Each class had one girl competing in a series of activities which included speeches, in both indigenous languages and Spanish, indigenous-ware, formal-ware, a talent show, a dance and, my absolute favorite, the costume/ dress-up outfit.
First off, every town, school, municipality, church in Guatemala has beauty pageants so it's not an uncommon occasion. It's an obsession here. But the level of rediculous was off the charts (in the best way).
The speeches were pretty stanards, though I had no clue what was being said when the contestants addressed the audience in K'iche. The contestants then wore a traditional indigenous dress from various areas in the region. Each traje, which is what the indigenous dress is called in its general sense (i.e. The Guatemalan woman was wearing traditional traje.), was accompanied by a dance. These dances were performed to traditional marimba, the national instrument, music and involved various other students to depict a scene or customary pratice of the Mayan people. For example, one dance depicted the marriage ceremony in which a new bride is handed over from her parents to her husband. Another depicted the preparation of the crops which is very involved and spiritual in Mayan practices. My favorite, was the depiction of the arrival of the conquistadors. Below you can see a picture of this dance in which the Spanish conquistadors arrive and proceed to surround a young Mayan girl and take her captive. This part was a bit uncomfortable for all the white people in the audience...all 3 of us.
Now for the talent portion. I am not sure 'talent portion' would be the appropriate title for this as it consisted of the contestants dressing up in different sport paraphernalia and walking the catwalk. There were a few soccer players, a basketball player, two rhythmimc gymnasts, a boxer and a bull fighter. Maybe it was the 'assumed talen portion'? Maybe the audience is supposed to assume that the sports the candidates portrayed are the talents they are capable of?
Anyhow, on to the best part. The costume contest. These girls are not messying around. It looked like mardi-gras up in that school auditorium! I can't even describe this well enough to give it justice. See pictures below.
Welp, then they came out in formal wear and the winner was announced and we all went home. This weekend is the crowning ceremony and celebratory dance. I may just stop on over in Cunen again...