07/31/2008 -17 °C
There is only one week left of my summer in Nicaragua, and I've been trying to make the most of it. This past Friday was a holiday in Managua to celebrate Santo Domingo, the patron saint of the city. The saint (well, the small statue representing the saint) spends most of its time living in a church in the foothills of Managua, but once a year he is brought down to the main cathedral on an alter of sunflowers. The procession starts early in the morning and spends the whole day winding through the streets, with thousands of people joining in. Many walk out of homage to the saint, some wear costumes, and others spend the day partaking in the national liquor (rum) – all of which makes for a very colorful parade. For those of you from San Francisco, it was a bit like a holy Bay to Breakers.
Friday night I left the revelry behind to meet my friend Linda at the airport and head down to Granada for the weekend. We were up early Saturday morning to head to the top of the Mombacho volcano. After endless warnings to Linda about how hot it would be in Nicaragua, I was surprised to feel something I didn’t think existed in Nicaragua – cold! The top of the volcano is covered by a cloud forest, so we spent the morning hiking through the clouds and enjoying the wildlife.
We then headed back down into the heat to go on a canopy tour half way down the volcano. Canopy tours consist of multiple platforms (14 in this case) built high up in the trees that are connected by cables. Similar to the zip line we had in the backyard when I was a kid – you move from cable to cable by flying at break neck speeds along a cable that are you attached to by a harness. It looks something like this: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=32129765850
It is a lot of fun, if not a little bit terrifying. Unfortunately for us, a thunderstorm hit us when we still had four platforms left. At that point there was nowhere to go but down – so we continued zipping through the trees, soaking wet. The guides didn’t seem all that perturbed by the nearby thunder, or the fact that we were surrounded by metal wires. To their credit though – they got us all down in one piece!
That night we joined my friend Matt and other friends at a birthday party in Granada. The theme was “70 Japanese Disco” – noone was quite sure what that meant, in English or Spanish, but there were some interesting outfits. We were in charge of bringing the piñatas (and stuffing them with “treats”). There is nothing quite like watching grownups take a whack at piñata (especially when they’ve also taken quite a few whacks at bottles of rum), and I don’t think I’ll ever look at Dora the Explorer or Barney quite the same.
Sunday, Matt was kind enough to take us to see some of the sites around Granada (the benefit of having a car!). From the Catarina Mirador you can see not only the Laguna de Apoyo (where we spent the afternoon swimming) but also the Lago Nicaragua.
Finally, I leave you with this image. Two weeks ago we had an office bbq, and my coworker Brian (who is also from Texas and loves to cook) and I were in charge of the food. Brian came up with the idea of making “beer can butt chicken” – for which you cut off the top of a beer can and fill it with spices and set the chicken on top, and then stick the whole thing on the grill. It should look something like this:
However, it turns out that Nicaraguan chickens (like Nicaraguan cockroaches) are bigger than those we have in Texas – so two of the chickens were too top heavy to sit alone on their beer cans (breast implants?). We were forced to improvise – and ended up with a new recipe – Chicken Love. It was delicious.