On Christmas Eve day I walked into town which was bustling with people buying and selling in preparation for Christmas. The sidewalks were packed with stands selling dolls and toys and along the north side of the cathedral a market was set up selling fruit, toys, hammocks, DVDs, CDs...you name it!
Later in the evening I returned to the plaza which was absolutely packed with people! There was a service in progress in the cathedral, vendors crowding the parque and a small number of carnival rides. I bought a little dinner from one of the vendors - fried chicken and french fries.
Cholesterol check anyone? As I was munching this gourmet treat I noticed a wild ride: A hand powered ferris wheel! Besides the fact that this was so low tech, there was no rope or fence or anything to prevent a the crowd from getting seriously beaned by the ride! This is what I love about Central America: your safety is your business!
Another festive event in Nicaragua takes place nightly from November 6 till January 6. This is the dance of Gigantona and Pepe Cabezon.
This is a tradition dating to the 15th or 16th century. Gigantona represents the Spanish - they were much taller than the natives they conquered - and Pepe Cabezon (Big Head or Stubborn) represents the Nicaraguans of lower status, but also of intellectual Nicaraguans such as poet Ruben Dario.
With them are drummers (sometimes a more elaborate band) and the poet. The poet recites verse which I have been unable to understand so can't tell you what they are saying but it is improvised, and then the drummers start up and Gigantona and/or Pepe dance until the next recitation.
I had thought about going to midnight mass but was exhausted by the crowds,,,and the rum I had drunk earlier at the hostel (thanks, Andy!) so that comfy bed was looking good!
I decided to spend the Christmas holiday in Leon because this hostel is a great place to relax with really comfortable beds, a great pool, and interesting fellow travelers. All for $8. Hard to beat!