Beauty and Danger In The Sky – Massive, Gorgeous Kites in Sumpango,Guatemala

Today in Sumpango, Guatemala I attended the most unique and interesting festival I have been to on this entire Curious Adventure.   As a caveat I haven’t been to many festivals – but – this one would still be pretty high on the list had I – I know this.  What you see in the photo below are glorious, gorgeous, colorful kites.  Yes, you know, things that you sail in the wind …..  all in celebration of ancestors on the equivalent of “Day of The Dead” but something completely unlike the parties of Mexico.  No costumes, just traditional clothing, respect for ancestors … and massive (and I’ll say it now – pretty dangerous – kites).

The full scene - The kites on display prior to flight
The full scene – The kites on display prior to flight

This is mainly a photo blog.   Please enjoy the amazing colors and bits of story.  The general gist is that people here pay honor to the dead by decorating graves and also building massive kites and flying them in a bit of a contest.  Plus they dress up for the occasion.   The photos are separated into People, the kites and the honoring.

The kites are exhibited before they fly. They are massive. Some are more than 50 feet across.
The kites are exhibited before they fly. They are massive. Some are more than 50 feet across.
Here are a couple of the average sized kites.
Here are a couple of the average sized kites.
Here's a big one. All of the kites pay respect to the dead somehow.
Here’s a big one. All of the kites pay respect to the dead somehow.
Families sit in front of the kites to display their pride
Families sit in front of the kites to display their pride.
It's clearly a festive event.
It’s clearly a festive event.
The inspection of the kites starts first thing in the morning.
The inspection of the kites starts first thing in the morning.
In addition the graves at the cemetery near by are decorated vibrantly.
In addition the graves at the cemetery near by are decorated vibrantly.
The scene at the cemetery is festive. We saw no tears, just people enjoying memories. Ice cream was available.
The scene at the cemetery is festive. We saw no tears, just people enjoying memories. Ice cream was available.
Children played in the cemetery - flying kites and laughing and running.
Children played in the cemetery – flying kites and laughing and running.
Here are a few more kids having a nice day dressed for the occasion.
Here are a few more kids having a nice day dressed for the occasion.
The beer here is left through respect. The family was having a picnic on the grave and this was probably left for the deceased.
The beer here is left through respect. The family was having a picnic on the grave and this was probably left for the deceased.
I just love this photo.
I just love this photo.
Oh yes, couldn't skip a photo that showed the gorgeous day with the Volcano present.
Oh yes, couldn’t skip a photo that showed the gorgeous day with the Volcano present.

It’s a massive street party as well.  I don’t know the numbers of people who actually show up but it’s most likely over 100K.   There is amazing food, drink, toys, games, etc.  It’s a mecca of new tastes, bright colors and so much more.  Delicious, dreamy, downright fantastically festive ……

Sorry if I offend, but it's just lunch with a smile.
Sorry if I offend, but it’s just lunch with a smile.
Yum. Yum.
Yum. Yum.
Like a mercado on steroids
Like a mercado on steroids
So many people selling so many things ... including this little girl :)
So many people selling so many things … including this little girl 🙂
Even though she is working at her family food stall it seemed ok.
Even though she is working at her family food stall it seemed ok.

So let me skip to the main event.  The flying of the kites.  You see, those kites from the exhibition … they fly (or … some of them fly).   Actually.  Fortunately or not.  Most of them ………. crash.   As a ratio it wasn’t good and the truth is I will say this – I actually think that like it or not, this even may be more dangerous than “The Running Of the Bulls” in Spain.   My friend who I met traveling was the target of one of these kite crashes and she was lucky to get out with what we declared a “Kite bite”.

Sonja's Kite Bite. OUCH. That's going to hurt. But it's definitely inevitable when you have wooden framed 30 foot kites being hoisted!
Sonja’s Kite Bite. OUCH. That’s going to hurt. But it’s definitely inevitable when you have wooden framed 30 foot kites being hoisted!
The kites are launched like this
The kites are launched like this
This is what the kite string looks like.
This is what the kite string looks like.
And here is how they mainly crash ... into the crowd
And here is how they mainly crash … into the crowd
Hopefully no one got hurt too badly ...
Hopefully no one got hurt too badly …
However this gorgeous kite was launched 7 times and failed every time. On the last crash a swarm of firemen rushed in and cameras were held high. We were pretty sure something bad happened ....
However this gorgeous kite was launched 7 times and failed every time. On the last crash a swarm of firemen rushed in and cameras were held high. We were pretty sure something bad happened ….
This cop is keeping his eyes peeled to see if something is coming down.
This cop is keeping his eyes peeled to see if something is coming down.
But yes, by the time we left at 5, 6 out of the 25 or so kites we saw attempt were actually flying (not really the best ratio but )
But yes, by the time we left at 5, 6 out of the 25 or so kites we saw attempt were actually flying (not really the best ratio but… )

At the end – it was an EPIC day.   So gorgeous and wonderful – and yes – a little scary at times (for real, it’s hard to run away from a massive object falling from the sky).   Great times, new friends and a whole heck of a lot of culture and experience unlike anything I would ever find anywhere else.   This is what the Curious Adventure is 100% about.

New friends, great day!
New friends, great day!

I wrap it up with this gallery – click through the photos to see them raising a giant kite – too much fun!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s