Xelebrity of the Month – November
XelaWho’s ear-to-the-ground correspondent, Jalapeño Jacobo, brings you the stories behind the famous faces you see around town in Xela. This month, he spoke to one of the groups that makes alfombras for the procession of La Virgen del Rosario.
What’s going on here?
Just putting the finishing touches on our alfombra.
Alfombra as in carpet?
Does this look like a carpet to you?
No, it looks like a giant, colorful, mosaic–type design laid out on the street.
That’s exactly what it is.
How long have you been making these beautiful “alfombras?”
We started 27 years ago. We are actually the group that began this festival in Xela.
So, would you say that these other groups are just hapless imitators?
Everyone is doing really great work.
But you guys are the best?
I knew I picked the right group to interview. Tell me a bit about your design process.
Every year we come up with a new design. We start about two months before the festival with a theme that honors the Virgin Mary. Then, we create a design on paper that represents the theme. And finally, we come to the park and make the magic happen.
How exactly do you make the magic happen?
First, we draw the design on the ground with chalk (that’s where the care and artistry come in) and then we fill the design in with colored sawdust.
Ahhh, I always thought it was sand.
You thought we carried giant bags of sand to the park and then dumped them on the street?
Well that’s ridiculous.
Where do you get so much colored sawdust from?
We buy loads of sawdust from local carpenters and then color it ourselves.
You guys are true craftsmen.
Of course we are, we take pride in what we do.
Where do you get your artistic spark from?
The Virgin Mary.
Where did this alfombra tradition originate?
I don’t really know. It’s an old Guatemalan tradition and people have been making these alfombras for as long as I can remember.
What does the city think about you covering the street in sawdust?
They don’t mind. They know it’s an important part of our culture, and so they give us permits to do this free of charge.
What happens once everyone’s finished with their alfombras?
A procession arrives and ruins all of them.
And what does that symbolize?
Our devotion to the Virgin Mary.
Right, of course.
We really need to finish up before the procession arrives.
Ok, anything else the extranjeros should know about your alfombra?
We make one every year, and we do it to honor the Virgin Mary.
Wonderful. Got it.
Great work guys!