Cozumel’s Passion Play

It’s Semana Santa (Easter week) here on the island of Cozumel.  And, with Mexico having one of the world’s largest Catholic populations, it is quite a sight to behold.  Between the crowds of tourists (I hear we have 90% occupancy) and the crowds of the faithful, let’s just say that it’s a good idea to give yourself some extra time before going anywhere.  But, in this case, I consider myself quite fortunate since I live directly across the street from a large Catholic church in the so-called Corpus Christi neighborhood.  That gives me the extra benefit of easily walking over to photograph one of the local customs, the Passion Play.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the Passion Play is a reenactment of the  trials and suffering that Jesus endured just prior to the crucifixion.  Now, this is not to be confused with “The Passion Play,” which, up north, is also a dramatic interpretation of the same events, but that play uses professional actors.  Our little production consists solely of devout parishioners dressed in homemade clothing to depict the historical time period.  These folks may indeed share the passion, but little to no formal training is either expected, or required, which leads to a sense of reality that I, personally, enjoy.  Picture this: altar boys, dressed in white and carrying candle, are then followed by Christ, joined by the two men who were crucified along with him, and all are led down the road by Roman guards while Mary and the devout walk behind.  The guards soon stop, flog him, and force him to wear a crown of thorns and carry a wooden cross.  Today this procession was also followed by well over a hundred local folks and a pickup truck with loud speakers that played somber music.  It really is quite an event to see.

Now, without me rambling on any further, I think I’ll just let my photos tell the rest of the story.  I’ll start with a few faces in the crowd, work up to the nervous antics of the participants just prior to the event, and will end with the Christ, himself.  I hope you enjoy and let me also take a moment to wish all of you a meaningful, and peaceful, weekend.  Salud!



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Good Friday on Cozumel

DSCF3108Since retiring to Cozumel I find myself unable to just sleep in.  In fact, I’m often up at the crack of dawn with my dogs in the park, although that’s, mostly, because they insist.    Then I ride a bike around the island focusing on the ocean and the sunrise.  And, after that,  it’s time to head home for some coffee.  While the pot’s percolating I feed the dogs inside and the birds out on my deck who are all waiting on the various wires surrounding my apartment.  Once all is said and done I just head back to bed to do some leisurely work on my laptop, or check out the various social networks to see what’s up.  Not a bad start to any day, yes?  However, since it’s Good Friday in this very Catholic country, my time for quiet came quickly to an end.  Let me explain.

1I’ve learned that when I hear a loudspeaker in the park close to my house that it’s probably a good idea to grab my camera and head on 2over.  Today was no exception to that rule.  By peeking over the wall of my deck I was able to see that they were putting on their version of the Passion Play in the Corpus Christi park and the processional was already starting.  I threw on some clothes and grabbed my camera.  Thankfully, I was able to get there in time to grab a shot of the altar boys dressed in gleaming white carrying the various symbolic tools of their faith, and mine.  Soon after them came the Christ figure dressed in white.  He had  “blood” painted on him and was surrounded by Cozumel’s version of Roman Soldiers.  Behind him were the other two men who represented those who’d been crucified with Christ on that fateful day.  And, following them were women who represented the Mother Mary, and the other women who’d been witnesses on that day, and all were dressed in the clothing of centuries past.  Finally,  all of those folks were surrounded by well over a hundred of the faithful who would walk with “Christ” to show their love and support.

3They passed the Corpus Christi church and began to head south on Ave. 20, which is usually quite the busy street here in Cozumel.  However, the police had blocked it with their vehicles for the processional.  At one point I decided to try and run ahead to snap some shots, but there were a lot of folks.  Gratefully, they were nice enough to try and make room for me.  I noticed that many were holding onto a rope that protected the main area, while others pushed the elderly in wheelchairs, or the very young in strollers.  Voices were raised in song while they continued on their journey.

They came to a stop after about a block for another part of the play.  Christ was then “crowned,”  “whipped,” and given a cross to carry.  The 4gentleman who was playing the part of Christ kept his head down and remained humble throughout.  The Roman guards were also playing their parts well.  In fact, the main soldier was quite tall, very serious, and looked as if he was really putting himself into the lashing.  No-one sang during this part and many of the altar boys would just look at the ground.  It was almost as if they didn’t want to watch even the symbolic re-telling of his journey.  It was quite touching, actually, to see such strong faith in some so young.

9Finally, Christ was dressed in a white robe and forced to continue walking with the cross he’d been given at this point.  Those walking along began to sing again and the6 procession continued.  Trailing behind was a red pickup truck with loudspeakers that would, occasionally, play music separately.  And, as the procession continued, more and more people joined in.   It was becoming quite the spectacle.   I also want to mention that my hat is off to those who were involved since the sun had come back out and it was getting quite warm.  But, for me?  I’d decided it was time for me to head home where I could put these events in writing and see if I got any shots that would help illustrate the lengths these folks go to celebrate their beliefs.  But, before I now finish those thoughts let me mention that this was quite a special way to bring in the busiest weekend of the year.  And I’m glad you came along.  Happy Easter everyone!  Salud!10