On September 15th, 1821 Guatemala won its independence from Spain peacefully. The Spanish effectively enslaved Guatemala’s indigenous people to work what had been their own land, for the benefit of the invaders, just as they did throughout the hemisphere for 300 years.
The caminata is a celebration unique to Guatemala, which takes place for days before September 15th. Hundreds of people run in the streets next to pickups and buses with torches and flags in their hands. The crowd is made up mostly of students running for their schools or colleges. There is a feeling surrounding the caminata similar to the Olympic Games; people gather along the streets, cheering for their sportsmen and throwing bags of water at everyone that accompanies the group.
PROBIGUA’s Spanish language students, staff, and families celebrated the nation's independence day alongside their compatriots. The day started at the Escuela Normal Pedro Molina School in Chimaltenango (17 kilometers West of Antigua, on the brow of the continental divide). From there, we started the run with the torch. Dozens of the students lined the street outside the entrance to the school--they cheered as we started to run towards Antigua. The PROBIGUA bibliobus drove right behind them so that every exhausted runner could get on the bus again periodically and rest.