The Lau family travels to Antigua, Guatemala to visit their cousins. Although the Laus are Chinese and Buddhist, they adore the pageantry of Easter, and Easter in Antigua is exciting, with long, elaborate processions of penitents wreathed in incense and carrying colonial Spanish statues down the cobblestone streets of the city. The best part is seeing the elaborate carpets made of colored sawdust, which the processions walk over and destroy. On the morning of the most important procession, the heroine is invited to make her very own sawdust carpet. But why, she wonders, make something so beautiful, only to have it be ruined? Guatemalan and Chinese religious observances, dragon boat races and Easter processions, pinatas, baptisms, and Chinese tamales all weave in and out of this story, which celebrates beauty, religious celebration, and tolerance.