Sunday, April 8, 2012


Every year on Good Friday, there is a locally famous Holy Week event called Tañarandy. 

(Guy leading tours via horse cart)

It consists of a candlelit walk several kilometers long from the community of Tañarandy to an open space short walk just north of San Ignacio. 

(Procession road during the day, people walking to the starting area to walk with the Maria statue)

(Line of candles made out of animal fat, half of an orange, and a wick)

Around sunset thousands upon thousands of candles are lit down the path with enough space in-between for people to walk. 

(View of the procession road from a hill)

The procession of several thousand people walk down the path, the majority walking a just before or after a statue of Maria surrounded by ‘escenarios’ singers who sing songs relating to different stations of the cross.

 (Maria Statue)

(Escenarios in purple capes walking in front of the Maria)

The statue of Mary is carried to a crucifix in the open area, after which the Jesus statue is removed from the cross.  Then, on a hill opposite the crucifix several scenes from the bible are depicted by actors in living painting scenes.  This year the last supper, 3 depictions of Jesus on the cross, and once scene that I think was the preparation of Jesus’ body for his tomb, and another scene at a table.  There was a choir and live music to accompany the presentation of the scenes.  The event was surprisingly short, which was nice since we were all standing.  The presentation of the scenes was followed by traditional music, dancing, displaces of artisanal works, food, etc around the main plaza of San Ignacio.

On Thursday, I had 5 guests arrive.  Jorge, a Spaniard who is traveling around south America on his bike, 3 PC volunteers, and one American friend of the volunteers.  I cooked up a big pot of sloppy joes for dinner, Jorge brought out a bottle of wine, and we had a low key night.

The next day an Argentine couple from Clordina drove in to stay as well.  I made an awesome chicken soup for lunch and jambalaya for dinner.  I love having groups of people over, but cooking for everyone can be very difficult when the supermarkets closed at noon on Thursday and weren't going to open again until Saturday.  So I had to stock up, esp since there were 5 additional people who had said they might come by.  So in my mind, I was prepped for potentially 12 guests.  It took 3 trips to the grocery store, filling my backpack each time, to get enough food to my house that I felt comfortable I could feed everyone.  Thankfully once you get a group that large together, people understand they’re going to have to take care of themselves a bit more.  I told them the fridge and drinks were all fair game, and to serve themselves if they needed a snack. 

I still don’t have running water in my house, but everyone got used to filling up a large Tupperware container from the faucet outside and dumping it down the bowl when necessary.  Fortunately we had rain beforehand, so we had water in the outside faucet almost the entire time.  When we didn’t, my 30L container helped provide supplemental water and seating.  I only have 4 chairs and a stool.

The day of Tañarandy, my group of 8 met up with my friend Luis and a bunch of his friends, as well as another volunteer, her Paraguayan husband and some of his family. 

 (My crew and me)

My fellow americans and I walked a good ways up the procession route, thought not all of the way.  We sat on some grass and waited for sunset. One of the things I was curious about was going to light all of the candles.  However at the top of the procession road at sunset, we started to see the flicker of candles.  A little while later everyone around me got out cigarette lighters and started lighting the candles around us.  I picked up a lit candle to use since I didn't have a lighter on me.

 (Lighting  the candles)

The most memorable thing about the procession walk was how the candles smelled.  Since they are made of oranges, when the wicks burned down enough to touch the sides of the fruit, they would burn too, which filled the air with a deliciously smokey citrus scent.

After the procession, the scenes were lit up.  At first we didn't realize all of the people were actors, not statues.  One particular scene was of Jesus leaning forward off of the cross at an odd angle which must have been super uncomfortable for the actor. Overall it was really well done. Its unfortunate that buses don't run on Fridays.  If they did, more volunteers would be able to come out and see the show.  They don't know what they're missing.

Afterwards we went to the plaza for a bit, though after about 45 minutes the Americans got tired, all of us volunteers have seen the dancing and the music before, so we went home and at a late dinner.  Another volunteer, Rose, who was in the area with her host family from her community also joined us for dinner and stopped by again the next day.

(Tanarandy Painting)


The next day the Argentineans wanted to treat us to an asado lunch, but it turned out there wasn’t really much food left in San Ignacio.  They went to the carniceria (meat shop), as well as the supermarket, but didn’t find what they wanted.  So we skipped the asado and they took me (everyone else had already left) to lunch.  At the restaurant they were out of most of the menu, but I was still able to get a very tasty piece of chicken with rice with a red sauce on top.

After that the couple also went home.  Although I really enjoyed having everyone over, my throat was sore from talking to so many people, all day long, for three days.  And I was quite thankful for some quiet time.  I passed out while watching the end of You’re Welcome America, took a nap for a few hours, woke up, cleaned the house for about 2 hours, and then went back to bed.  Very tired.

Amazingly, even though 9 people were at my house at one point or another, the house was remarkably clean.  It needed a good sweeping and there was a pile of dishes in the sink, but other than that and refilling my water bottles and rearranging a few things, there wasn’t much real cleaning to do.

I also have a ton of leftovers, so I won’t have to do any cooking for a few days.  Bonus!

*Photos courtesy of Migue and Maria

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