Monday, September 25, 2006


Together with my 7-month-old baby and our resort’s security guard (I didn’t fancy driving through the jungle by myself at night) I went to church last night. This is not something I do too often, but boy did I enjoy it!

I was going to watch Deborah our babysitter at the graduation of her bible studies. But the church service I ended up seeing wasn’t at all what I had expected, it was actually rather odd. There was no preaching going on, just lots of very loud Hispanic Christian music, beautiful singing and frantic dancing.

It actually reminded me of my old MTV days when I used to spent a lot of time at raves (illegal house parties where kids took XTC tablets, drank gallons of water, danced for up to 12 hours straight, hugged strangers and told them they loved them). Just like the ravers did back in the nineties, these churchgoers were working themselves up into a complete frenzy. Waving their hands in the air, singing at the top of their lungs, swaying, shaking, jumping…brilliant! The only thing that struck me as rather strange was that people were ushered to the front of the church once they started their wild dancing and they would be held or closely followed by another church member, probably to make sure that they wouldn’t fall over or something. Especially the women were acting like they couldn’t control their own bodies (looking at them I suddenly understood why Freud thought that women were rather hysterical). The men would also dance wildly, but they were in much less danger of falling over, apparently. I mean, a church member would still hover near them, but never actually touch them.

I was so tempted to join the dancers at the front and do my ‘MC Hammer’. But I realized that that would probably been seen as very inappropriate, so I suppressed my urges (very Christian, don’t you think?) and stuck to swaying in the ail with my flabbergasted baby in my arms (He was as dumbstruck by the whole experience as I was).

I guess I should have realized that I was in the wrong church, because our beloved babysitter was nowhere to be seen. Still, I was enjoying this bizarre display of worship, this celebration of life (especially once people started to use whistles and the BPM was steadily being raised) when suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Deborah's brother, bringing me the bad news; the graduation was actually in the church around the corner.

I was sad to leave ‘the ravers’, but made my way over to the other church none the less. There, I took pictures of the graduation, allowed my baby to be passed around from person to person (People from Central America love babies) and listened to people rambling on in Spanish on stage. I had no idea what was being said, just as I had no idea what had actually been going on in the other church. Still, it was great to watch Deborah on this evening that meant so much to her and it was a great experience to witness all these faithfuls, in both churches. This glimpse of Central American worship was something I will never forget.

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This was at the begining of the church service, before the dancing started...

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And the people slowly started to move more and more (I didn't have the guts to film them when they started to do the 'trance dancing')...

But look at how different the next church was. It was all much more serious. Although, in Central America there is always some level of chaos going on, even during church services (see the kids roaming around)

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