Good Friday is the big day in Honduras, with all bus service coming to a halt and most stores (even pulperias) closing. My neighbor Sandra, who is becoming a good friend, invited me to attend the procession with her. I agreed thinking that I'd be walking around San Ramón with people singing or praying, kind of like Our Lady of Lourdes did on Good Friday (just minus the van with the loudspeaker). How wrong I was! It first meant going to church, which I haven't done in a long time. I have been to church for weddings and baptisms but actual mass?
Here's the lowdown:
1. Luckily, I did not burst into flames the moment I walked in through the door, considering what a sinner I am.
2. In San Ramón, they stand up for all the readings, not just the gospel. Seven readings. I don't mind standing but when you know there's a seat, well, you want to sit but the microphone just kept getting passed back and forth and in my head all I thought was, "This will be the last reading. No? Ok, THIS one will be the last one, right?"
3. Church is church no matter where you are in the world. There will always be kids screaming at the top of their lungs.
4. Church is also a fashion show as most people wore their best clubbing outfits to mass. Denim mini skirts, high heel shoes, halter tops, tube tops. I was waiting for the lights to go out and for the reggatón to start blasting out the speakers.
5. Some things never change. English or Spanish, people mindlessly recite prayers outloud while looking around and not aware of what they're really saying. It reminded me of when I was in 7th grade and we would say the rosary after recess and then the teacher would call on someone asking for the "4th sorrowful mystery" and everyone would draw a blank.
6. I still have the same habits in church that I did when I was younger. I look around and count how many people had banana clips in their hair, I counted how many dogs entered the church, I watched other people have their independent conversations, I made a mental list of what else I was planning to do during the day.
7. The priest invited everyone to come up and kiss Jesus's feet and I was overcome with fear that I would have to go up there, just like in grade school. I hated doing it in grade school and not much has changed in 11 years. I looked at Sandra and she said, "I'm not going up. Are you?" Saved!
After mass, some of the town people took Jesus off the cross, folded his arms down and placed him in a clear coffin covered with fake flowers. We all left the church and began the march around San Ramón, which took about 90 minutes because we walked so slow. Every 10 minutes or so we would stop and the guys carrying the coffin would place it on a table of flowers to rest. A group of people would circle the table, not to look at Jesus, but to grab the flowers the moment the coffin was lifted again. Women were walking around with boquets of flowers that would make funeral homes envious. It was ridiculous. After the procession, Sandra and I walked back and she told me that there will be three soccer games on Sunday and I have to go. (San Ramón won on Wednesday, 2-1, both goals scored by "my future husband". I also managed to fall down a rocky hill in front of the whole crowd. Some things never change.)