Christmas in Nicaragua

The forth of July is put to shame by Christmas Eve in Nicaragua. Fireworks are going off like crazy, as car alarms follow in harmony with the cathedral’s bells as the beat. It’s midnight, and there’s no rhythm to their madness — simply explosions in chaos.

I went outside to take pictures of the fireworks, but I was turned away when one was thrown at me with a “hey gringo.” Feliz Navidad to you too.

I wasn’t upset. What can you do, when you’re probably the whitest person in a country that has a history of hatred for Americans? I’m just here for experience on a whim, learning about coffee. It’s for delusions of grandeur of becoming some well-read foreign correspondent, worldly and wise. We’ll see if that ever occurs. College graduation comes first.

It was strange walking outside this morning with the sun peeking through a misty rain. They call Matagalpa the “Pearl of the North” and the “Land of the Endless Spring.” I see how they came across those descriptions. Everywhere else in the country is sunny and warm with temperatures reaching into the 90s. Here it’s crisp and cool, and the air has that now accustomed Nicaraguan smell of sour and sweet — like sewage and flowers. It’s impossible to distinguish which one comes first.

Hannah and I got up this morning and went on a walk around town, criss-crossing through neighborhoods up into the hills. Matagalpa reminds me again of Missoula, but instead of pine trees and grasslands, it looks tropical with flowering trees. It’s a town set in a bowl with mountains all around, and the most prominent buildings are the cathedrals, like Missoula’s St. Francis church.

We were met with cheery-faced locals, who would give us directions. The roads are the quiet. The usual trucks, blastingspeakers to sell or preach a sermon, are absent for the first time this trip, and the few walking the sidewalks are in their Sunday best.

It’s the first Christmas without being cold, without some sort of snow in the hills and the smell of pine, but it’s still peaceful and relaxing.

Feliz Navidad.



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