Benque, Belize Decorates the Streets Beautifully For the Passion of The Christ

Good Friday is a somber day throughout Belize.   No alcohol is sold or served across the country and almost all businesses are closed.   Much of the country is Roman Catholic and most churches hold religious processions over the Easter holiday.   Some simple…some elaborate.


I travelled to Benque Viejo on Thursday afternoon to take part in what might be the most elaborate Easter celebrations in Belize.  The last town along the western highway, just before the Guatemalan border, Benque takes the Good Friday traditions quite seriously.  I was up at dawn and here is some of what I saw…

A dense fog sits over the Mopan River in the early morning.


Mostly young people were up raking, flattening and wetting the massive amounts of sawdust that were being poured onto the streets.


And on the steps of the huge church.
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Most houses were draped with purple bunting for the holiday.

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Packing, spraying, hoping it doesn’t rain…


I really loved some of the free form ones…piousness + art.



And then by mid-day…


IMG_4889I wanted to help so I lingered longingly around the “carpet” that had the most participants.  The one sponsored by Benque’s National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) and some others…


Lovely Ingrid from NICH took the bait and set me up with a pattern.  No…NOTHING like this…


I back pedalled a bit…explaining that I wasn’t all that arty and she said this is NOT arts and crafts.  This is service to God.  Art from the heart.  My grapes were put down.


Mix the saw dust with lots of water and pack it into the mold.  The more even and hard packed, the thinner the layer, the better.


Can you spot me working on my grapes in this picture posted on Facebook by Benque Viejo?


As I was finishing up (this is HARD work!), the passion play and the procession were about to begin so I hustled down to the church.  Passing many people working hard on their street art.



A crowd was gathering and the re-enactment was beginning.

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It wasn’t until the procession and the stations of the cross that I got a better look.


It’s all a bit hard to watch.  But then Good Friday is a very solemn and holy holiday.

IMG_4865My friends Mary and Ken were there also (though I didn’t even see them!) and took this shot.


I circled back to take one last tour of the many many sawdust projects on the streets.  I was headed out to Belize City that afternoon and would miss the procession and burial of Christ that would take place over them at sunset.

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Beautiful, sad, inspiring.  Though I’m not a terribly religious person, I loved seeing the devotion that was going into this day in Benque.


These two girls doing all of these flowers around this giant carpet.  Hours and hours of packing the sawdust all so the re-enactment of the funeral procession of Christ could go over it that evening.  Kinda amazing.

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As you can see, I took MANY pictures.  But there was something inspiring about each art work…

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How beautiful.






I’m in Belize City now waiting for the finish of the 86th Annual Cross Country Bicycle Race.  It started at dawn, cycles ALL THE WAY out to San Ignacio and then back to Belize City.

I hope you all are having an excellent Easter Weekend.

And check out Bob’s fantastic post for some pictures of the early morning Good Friday procession in San Pedro.


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