Every Easter my thoughts travel back to the Semana Santa, or Holy Week, celebration in Antigua, Guatemala where I know for certain that Guatemalans have worked through the night to create the beautiful wood shaving 'alfombras' that cover the cobblestone streets. Tourists and locals alike carefully maneuver around the works of art, awaiting the afternoon processions which will trample the carpets, coating the small town in a beautiful layer of rainbow dust.
Alfombra creation is a painstakingly detailed tradition with coloured sawdust prepared for weeks in advance, and hours spent in a hunched position carefully sifting sawdust through stencils to create the ornate alfombras. But locals are happy to expend the effort, alfombra designs considered a source of family pride with stencils passed on through generations and wealthier families displaying their status by incorporating flowers wherever possible. After an unsuccessful attempt to sift the coloured dust with the Guatemalan precision in Antigua 2007, I will stick to what I know, and continue writing papers this Easter weekend.