Adventures in Joyabaj

In the village of Joyabaj up in the hills between Chichicastenango and San Juan Sacatepequez is the scene for what I like to call the Flying Man Festival. It is really only part of a bigger week of celebration, but it was the part I had been waiting to try and see for a year.

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The event is part of a flying dance where men and boys dressed as angels spin down to the ground around a wooden pole about 75 feet in the air. There are two men at the top that tie on the "angels" as well as a couple of "monkeys" that hang out on the pole.

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The most dangerous part seem to be the climb up the homemade wooden ladders that were lashed to the pole. The Palo Volador is a ritual that came from pre-conquest days and tells the story of the angels going down into Hell to do battle with evil.

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It was definitely worth the 3-4 hour drive over somewhat questionable "roads" with the always not very good "map" of Guatemala to guide us through the picturesque countryside. We have several routes now we could recommend now that we have been there.

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There were other dances and lots of local color in the village, especially in the clothing and head dresses of the women. It was really interesting to see whole families dressed in the same patterns from small girls to grandmothers, creating a unifying element that bond them together.

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Next time your kids complain about lack of space in the car, remind them this could be their ride home!

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Gives a whole new meaning to the expression, "Just hanging around!"

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Webpage design and production and photographs by Cathleen L. Carpenter Photography - copyright 2012

page last updated 8/21/2012