I have already shared with you the spiritual and historic side of Esquipulas, now I will share the folkloric side.
The trip usually goes like this (when by car):
Leave Guatemala City at about 5:00 am.
Stop on the way to have breakfast. In the 70´s we used to pack a pic nic and stop on the side of the road. The picnic which I still make fun off, consisted in hard boiled eggs wrapped in aluminum foil, panes con frijoles, wrapped in napkins and placed back in the loaf's plastic bag and juice. During the 80`s when safety became an issue and cars were faster ate in the car on the way, during the 90`s until today that we have more into our bourgeois ways (jejeje) we usually stop at at a Restaurant along the way (not that there are tons of choices), usually Sarita, Atlantico or Longarone. -although if it were only for me I stop at a tortillas con loroco stand on the road-
Arrive just in time to participate at 11:00 in solemn mass.
Stand in line for the blessing. This is also very typical, if you have had the chance to buy suveniers before or you have brought water you can have it be blessed. You can also just stand and get the blessing yourself with Holy Water.
Take a picture in front of the temple. (You can see them in the Esquipulas Part 1 post)
Visit El Señor. To follow this tradition is better to go during the week, during the weekend you can stand in line for hours to be able to go right in front of the image of El Señor de Esquipulas.
Buy Sombreros de Esquipulas and colorful decorations for your car. I am not sure we ever did this but we did it this last time. To show that you have done the pilgrimage people come back with "Sombreros de Esquipulas", hats adorned with string, knick knack, stamps of the Christ, pipe cleaners, etc. For the car or bus you buy colorful pipe cleaners that go curled on the antenna or anywhere you can wrap them around.
I do have to stop here to say that I had never thought about them as pipe cleaners until I met Tom and he came to Guatemala. I happened to have bought a new car, so I said to him we will go to Esquipulas to get it blessed (the obvious thing to do). I will never forget the puzzled look on his face and also how sweet and politically correct he was when he asked me to further explain this. Many Guatemalans (my family included) have followed the tradition of getting our car blessed in Esquipulas (in reality what is blessed is not the car but the passengers and its travels). Tom not ever having heard of such a concept, said ok I can understand you want to bless the car but why do you have to travel 300Km instead of doing it at the local Church. I had no real answer to that other than: TRADITION, TRADITION, TRADITION! -note: I am singing the Fiddler on the roof song-. Well, off we went to Esquipulas for the first time with Tom on the way I was explaining about the decorations, I said they tie this multicolor, fuzzy, prickly strings, that are weaved in bendable wire, bla, bla, bla. When we got there and saw them he said: Oh, pipe cleaners! Since then the experience really has not been the same although my devotion to the Cristo the Esquipulas and the favors we have received are ever growing.
Light candles for everyone that has asked you to light a candle for them in your visit. It used to be that the candles were lit inside the temple, of course deteriorating all the interior. After the restoration the area for burning candles was moved to the outside of the church.
Buy Toronja and other triglyceride raising goodies. Toronja is grapefruit but THE toronja of esquipulas is a typical candy fudge like made out of toronja and sugar. It comes in a green color block.
We hardly ever stay the night anymore so after all these we head out and have lunch/dinner on the way back.
I hope you enjoyed the pilgrimage!
CLICK HERE FOR THE PART ONE OF THIS POST