Posted by: HelenRortvedt | 23 January 2006

Granada and Diriamba

Well, I am back at Juan Jose, still without much to do but reflect on my weekend. I spent the afternoon on Saturday in Granada with my host mom (Jamileth) and Fernanda (her 12 year old daughter). It’s only about 45 minutes from Jinotepe, but quite different. Granada is probably the most tourist-friendly town in Nicaragua, and for good reason. It’s idyllic location on the shores of Lake Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua on US maps), with the rugged, cloud-covered peak of a dormant Volcan Mombacho hovering in the distance makes for a perfect backdrop for photos. Also, the refurbished colonial streets provide an enchanting atmosphere. Granada is one of the oldest European settlements in the Americas. Its Convento de San Francisco was originally built in 1523. It was destroyed in the 1800’s by the infamous William Walker (crazy American who declared himself president of Nicaragua and tried to build a close economic relationship with the Confederacy), but has been beautifully restored. The parque central is peaceful and shaded by dozens of palm trees. There are lots of great restaurants and interesting streets to stroll down. We took a carriage ride down to the lakefront, which was great. All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon, but it just whetted my appetite for travelling. I really enjoy Jinotepe, but the weekends are almost TOO relaxed, with very little to do. I am hoping to return to Granada for a weekend on my own to explore a bit more, take a boat out into the isletas and do some hiking in the Mombacho cloud forest…maybe all that warrants two or three weekends!

Yesterday was the last day of the week long fiestas patronales celebrating San Sebastian. It is widely noted that Diriamba’s festival is one of the most authentic and lively of the country. People come from all over to join in the festivities. The week-long event features both catholic and pagan rituals–a procession of the saints from neighboring towns, including Jinotepe, and dances with indigenous roots occur one after the other. On Sunday, the town’s poulation probably triples with the Hipico–which essentially translates to “horse show”, but manifests itself as a giant party in the streets with thousands of people reveling. The beer and rum flow freely and music blasts from every intersection. Early in the afternoon, it is more like organized chaos, with the streets primarily reserved for horse traffic. But, as the festivities progress, people being to pour into the streets among the horses and what follows is a precarious, yet energetic dance with the horses trying to find their way through a sea of people weaving between their hooves, all the while, the caballeros are pouring beer and rum on their manes! The traffic on the way out of town that evening was horrendous. It took us over half an hour to find a bus with space that was headed back to Jinotepe…just 3km down the road.

I was hoping to post some of my pictures from this weekend, but I cannot seem to find a computer with a USB port as of yet, so you all will just have to wait a while longer. Wireless internet has definitely not found its way to Jinotepe just yet…

Hope all is well!

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