All Guatemalan towns celebrate their feria once a year. Feria is the week long celebration of the town’s patron saint and quite the event of the year. Vendors come in from all over the country… or in Cabrican’s case, from Xela. The town is inundated with people from the surrounding area and you have more street food options to choose from than ever before: street tacos, hot dogs, pizza, fried chicken… which is a dream or a nightmare depending on whether or not your stomach can handle all the extra bacteria crawling around in the vendor’s cart.
I am still not clear on exactly who the saint of Cabrican is. The most common response, besides saber (who knows?), was Cristo de Akapetagua. I have no idea what Akapetagua is or means, but I am quite sure that the saint is some form of Jesus. This perplexes me; because I was not aware that Jesus could be the saint of a town, but you learn new things everyday.
Regardless of whether or not Jesus is the saint of Cabrican, there doesn’t seem to be much celebration of that saint during the week anyway. Kids run around the game areas and spend a fortune on video games and foosball. Teens frequent the excessive number of dances and the Ferris wheel propped up on wooden blocks and racing around at a speed uncommon to Ferris wheels. There is a brief parade with religious figurines.
My favorite event was compite. Crowds with straight faces gather around to watch a group of people dance around in masks for four hours repeating the same steps. I could never manage to watch for more than five minutes before boredom set in, but I believe the local Guatemalans found it very entertaining. Despite their expressionless faces, they would remain there for the entirety of a show.
Feria, coincidentally, is also an excuse for a soccer tournament. Cabrican, Sija, Palestina and Huitan bring out their teams to battle for a trophy that rivals me in size. Being that this is no ordinary soccer tournament (Cabrican no longer invites Sibilia to their tournament because one year they ran away with the trophy several years back even though it was a tie), the town pays players from other parts of the country to join their team. Again, despite the fact that their education is among the worst in the nation and many of the outlying aldeas (suburbs, if you can call them that) do not have running water or electricity. Unfortunately this year, Cabrican lost to Sija in the finals, so Sija got to take off with the mammoth of a trophy.
I will hopefully have pictures up soon. While I failed in documentation of feria, I had a couple of friends come up to partake in the festivities and Shanna is an exceptional photographer.