Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Samana Santa and Chinandega

WHO: Essa (aka Vanessa)
WHAT: Peace Corps, Environmental Education
WHERE: Nicaragua
WHEN: Sept '05 - Nov '07
WHY: La vida es un carnaval

Sanana Santa is an important week long festival in Latin American countries. There are usually lots of processions and parades, stations of the cross, and the church encourages people to reflect on Jesus's suffering. But one of my friends said at a church service, the priest was hoppin' mad at all the folks (the majority of the population) who use the week to get out of town, vacation, visit the beach, drink and make merry. I ended up working much of the week anyway, but did manage to visit a family that have a small ranch a few hours from town. When I got off the bus, the dad was waiting with a horse for me and we hoofed it about an hour to the farm.

What did we do at the farm?
Made 1000s of Nacatamales - almost like the tamales the northern Mexicans make, but folded in banana leaves instead of corn husks. The experience has made me go off meat when I saw a pig's eyeball - still in the socket - carried off by a diseased puppy. I didn't eat many Nacatamales after that.

We went to the river to swim.

They guys box - 3 minute rounds. Neighboring farm hands came from all around for the festivities.

Horseback ride.

Herd cattle.

Bronc ride - but these cowboys wear plastic flip flops.

There was also a dance - which the farm hands got all slickerd up for. There was no electricity, so the stereo was hooked up to car batteries and worked well for about an hour. So it was a short dance. In bed by 9.

Trip to the Northern Pacific coast
Noemí, Celine, and I, all volunteers from the central part of the country, made the trek up north to visit a couple of other long lost volunteers. They live in a department called Chinandega, which has a lot of volcanoes, dust, and heat. But they also have coastline. Here's the three of us with Sarah. Sarah lives in a small town only a stone's throw from the beach...but her trips there are limited because there is a major port not too far from there. Port means trucks and trucks mean truckers. They are some of the most anoying people in Nicaragua because of their endless piropos (catcalls) - the blond and blue eyed is so exotic that they can't contain themselves. It really gets on the nerves and I could write a whole volumes of books on how much many women volunteers hate it. However, one feels strengthened in groups, so we went together - got in some good swimming and good fish.
Who says there is no truth in advertising?

We went to the annual Food Festival in Corinto. Good fish and seafood, cold beer. Yum.

Some of the cultural figures and dances of Nicaragua:

The Gueguense character (and my dog's namesake).

They really like these traditional dances where the women balance things on their heads.

A few snapshots from the beach:

On our way back home, we stopped in and visited SandyKelly. (Although they are actually two people, they are married and people in their site actually refer to both of them individually as SandyKelly). This picture was taken from a newly constructed viewpoint in their town. In the background, the volcano Momotombo is visible.

SandyKelly have a Spanish version of Cranium - it was fun. But perhaps not quite as fun as Sandy is making it appear.