Easter and the Holy Week in Guatemala

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Happy Easter everyone! I hope you had a lovely time to relax with your loved ones. Easter is quite a big deal in Guatemala, as the country still has strong Catholic roots. Usually the weather gets pretty hot and people call it “summer”, before “winter” bring rain around May. So the city gets deserted by any family who can afford to go down to the beach for some sea fun and fresh air. We decided to stay in Guatemala City as we are at the beach all year long (even my lake gets invaded by loud jet skis and drunk party animals so it’s not the best time to be around), and enjoyed the Easter traditions.

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One such big tradition is the flower and sawdust carpets people make on the floor so the religious processions can walk on them as they pass.

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It takes hours to make a carpet, and the one you see here was in the center of Guatemala City, trying to beat the record of longest carpet in the world. It was about 2 miles long.

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After the procession passes, the cleaning team is ready to wipe any trace of the temporary art.

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The processions themselves are also a very strong tradition. People from any age participate.

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They are part of a brotherhood and all dress the same, in purple or black generally.

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They carry a holy image for almost 24 hours all around the historic center, starting and ending at their church. Notice the guy below that holds one of the many electric cables (top right) so the cross doesn’t get trapped.

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Being chosen to carry is a privilege you have to pay a hefty sum for, and places are so limited they used to be inherited by the most respected of families.

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They take turn in carrying every 10 minutes or so, and from their faces, it weights a lot.

This is the Holy Thursday procession where Christ carries his cross to be crucified.

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There was also a kids procession

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And a women’s one.

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They were all dressed in white, then on Holy Friday they dress all in black.

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This is Holy Friday’s procession going out of Antigua’s Cathedral. Antigua is a beautiful colonial town 30 miles away from Guatemala City. The processions there are huge and beautiful too.

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They prepared beautiful flower beds in the street of the Arch, the most iconic of the city,

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while the brotherhood carries a dead Christ lying with his mother and Mary Magdalena icons.

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The colonial setting and incense cloud make for a very dramatic setting, as the procession goes to the sound of funeral marches.

Yakezie Carnival, Easter edition

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Easter in Guatemala

Easter in Guatemala

Happy Easter everyone! Here in Guatemala it is a very important time of year, well known for its colorful processions. Stay tuned on Monday for a recap of the Holy Week, in the meanwhile, enjoy the Yakezie Carnival! You can submit your posts for next week here.

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Pay Off Debt and Reach Financial Independence

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You can’t put a price on financial independence. It’s something that most people want, yet many don’t know how to achieve it. Financial independence has tremendous benefits. For example, there is the freedom to pursue other opportunities. The majority of people find themselves stuck at a job for 30 years. But if they’re able to achieve financial independence, there’s the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship or take risks with their career.

Additionally, being financially independent can provide extra spending money, and there’s the chance to spend more time with family. And most importantly, this type of independence brings peace of mind.

Unfortunately, if you have a lot of consumer debt, it can be hard to achieve financial independence.

Although debt is a part of society, a debt-free life is doable. There are several reasons why we acquire debt. For the most part, we don’t always have money to get the things we need, such as a house or an automobile. Even though loans are customary, financing anything means that you’re a slave to your creditor. And the more debt you have, the higher the risk for negative consequences. For example, you might get in over your head or deal with a damaged credit score.

There are, however, solutions to debt. And although most people attempt to tackle debt on their own, some situations call for professional help.

Now, if you’re trying to become financially independent, asking for help might not seem “independent.” However, getting help from a professional company can help you reach goals faster.

The truth is, a credit and debt counseling company like Lexington Law might be the answer to debt issues and the ticket to becoming financially independent. If you can pay off your debt and adopt a cash-only life, the opportunities are endless. However, some credit and debt service companies have a bad rap. If you research online reviews, you’ll read different stories from people who have been taken advantage of by these companies.

For example, some credit repair companies claim to be able to remove all negative items from your credit report. They raise your hopes; but in the end, some companies will take your money and provide little, if any, results.

This isn’t how all credit and debt counseling companies work. The key is finding a reputable company — one that’s upfront from the beginning.

If you need a company to help repair your credit, it’s important that you understand how services work. The company works diligently to remove unfair and inaccurate information from your credit report. This might include collection accounts, late payments, charge-offs and any other negative item reported in error. After this information is deleted from your report, your credit score will improve. Unfortunately, these companies cannot remove legitimate negative items from your report.

Also, if you need debt management help, the service company will work with your creditors to negotiate better terms and lower payments. This keeps your monthly payments manageable, and helps eradicate balances sooner.

The ability to remove negative information from your credit report and manage debt is only one aspect of working with a service company. Paying off debt and fixing your credit report can boost your personal score. But your score may drop if you revert to poor credit habits. For this matter, a good company will also provide credit and debt education.

To be honest, some people have bad credit because they don’t know the fundamentals of credit management. They may not realize the importance of paying bills on time and they may not understand the factors that influence their credit score. Likewise, they may have debt due to uncontrollable spending habits and poor money management.

Through credit education, you’ll receive tools and information that can help you make the most of you credit and manage credit wisely.

So, do you want to achieve financial independence? Do you need to get from under the burden of debt? Don’t tackle this problem alone. It can be a lengthy, frustrating process. But you can reach your goal with professional help.

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5 ways to quickly add value to your property

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There exists a multitude of options and reasons for increasing the value of your home. Perhaps your mortgage application was just accepted and it is time to put your old house on the market. You want to get the most out of selling your old house and are willing to put just a bit of time and effort into it before putting on the market. Rest assured, it can be quick and painless to reap the benefits of home improvements.

Landscaping

This is the first thing visitors see when they approach your house, and you only have one chance to make a first impression. If your house looks like an island in an ocean of dead grass or an overgrown jungle, this might be the perfect starting point to make your property stand out. You can easily tackle this on your own in an afternoon or two. Trim the hedges, prune the trees, water the grass or even find some decorative drought-tolerant plants to line the walk, block the view of the foundation or accentuate the shutters or drapes.

The front door

It is said that home-buyers make their decision in the first seven seconds they are in a house. It may seem trivial but having an inviting, tasteful front door can change the look of the entire house. Consider upgrading or even just refinishing the front door to refresh that new looking luster. A small overhang or portico over the door will not only protect it, but will give you a sheltered spot to fumble for keys when the sun is hot or the rain is beating down.

Lighting

Artfully lighting an interior space is entering the realm of the interior designer but this doesn’t mean you can’t tastefully lively up a dark corner yourself. Is there a room or corner of the kitchen or living room that is uninviting? Having small ‘can’ lights added into the ceiling is cheap and they tend to be subtle. Another trendy lighting option is light rails. These are usually halogen but super-efficient LED’s are also available. The small, low output lights slide along a metal rail or cable and they are very customizable allowing you direct them to highlight artwork, a reading chair or a mantle. Let’s not overlook the various eco-friendly sun tubes. These consist of a round skylight on the roof with a reflective tube delivering light to a diffuser in the ceiling. After the initial cost of materials and installation, these provide free lighting during daylight hours.

Open is in

Whether it means removing a non-structural wall between the kitchen and dining room or finally tearing out that breakfast bar from the 70′s, large open areas between rooms gives you space to breathe. Short of completely remodeling a room, this is a relatively small project that allows you to be a bit creative and increase the spatial feeling of an area. This can be as simple as cutting a whole in a wall, adding a colorfully tiled counter-top and some stools. For an elegant touch, make that whole into an arch or even an eastern style arch.

Insulation efficiency

It’s a common misnomer that having a well-insulated house is only important for heating but it is equally so for cooling. There are a range of options on the market including blown cellulose insulation, fiberglass rolls and expanding polyurethane. A quick bit of research in your area will show available options and prices. It will not only add value to your home, but help reduce your heating and cooling bills with rapid recuperation of you initial investment.

So, if you have just been approved for a Clear Path Home Loan from BOQ and you want to get your old house sold as quickly as possible and for the best price, taking some, or all, of these simple steps can add a surprising amount of value to your property.