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It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Lots and Lots of...KITES?

What: Festival de Sumpango - Barriletes Gigantes (Giant Kites)
Where: Sumpango, Guatemala
When: November 1st - El Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)
Why? Huge, ginormous, spectacular kites!

As I wrote in Jeff Nelson's excellent piece Potluck Series: Holidays From Around the World, Sumpango, Guatemala celebrates "The Day of the Dead" in a truly unique fashion. Aside from honoring loved ones who have passed away by visiting the cemetary and decorating their graves, the people of Sumpango celebrate by constructing, displaying and (sometimes) flying enormous kites made of tissue paper (many of which are true works of art). Due to the awesomness of the festival, I felt I should provide everyone with a few more details...and LOTS OF PHOTOS!

Let me make one thing clear: They take their kites very, very serious. So serious in fact that 30+ groups from Sumpango spend up to 3-4 months making the kites in preparation for the big event. Once that day finally arrives, it goes a little something like this...


No sun, no problem.


(BEFORE) It takes a lot of bamboo to hoist up and display a three-story kite!



Thanks to Vilma and Carol - my fantastic tour guides and friends!

Three of FAPE's finest!...and one of Kiva's finest?


"The Voices from Beyond"

The view from above Sumpango

2 PM - Lunch and a quick stop at the cemetery to pay our respects

The cemetery in the middle of town decorated for "The Day of the Dead"

3 PM - TIME TO FLY! ... What goes up...


,,,MUST COME DOWN. A compliation of awesome (yet slightly dangerous) kite crashes!

"Heads Up". Crash #1.

"Watch Out!!" Crash #2

10 PM: TIME TO GO HOME... aka "Take nine-hour overnight bus ride across the country."

Lessions Learned:
1) Kites are back. Well, not sure that they ever left. But I regret taking them for granted for the past 20+ years.
2) Local resources are the best! Thanks again to my awesome FAPE co-workers.
3) Halloween and El Dia de Los Muertos are a great one-two combination. No matter how you celebrate them, don't forget about your loved ones.
4) Don't forget to return your Halloween costumes. It's only November 6th - the fine won't be that bad!

About the author

Bob Luchsinger

Born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, Bob has had the opportunity to call a lot of places home in the past decade - Nashville, Washington DC, New York City, Mendoza, Argentina, Lima, Peru, Chicago and most recently San Francisco. After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2006 with dual degrees in Political Science and Human & Organizational, Bob spent 3.5 years working as a data analytics consultant for FTI Consulting in Washington, DC. During this time, he acquired his first passport, an experience that would come to change his life. Passport-in-hand he spent the next year traveling and doing nonprofit work in Argentina and Peru. It was during this time that he developed a curiosity and passion for sustainable economic development, social entrepreneurship and innovative ways to reduce poverty. After rejoining the consulting world in 2012, Bob realized that his true passion and interests remained abroad in Latin America. As a member of KF22, Bob hopes to work closely with the local communities in Guatemala and El Salvador to gain a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship and how it can be used to create sustainable businesses in an effort to reduce poverty.