Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Grenada, Villa Esperanza, and Day of the Dead, sorta'

Granada is really a bit of a shock after Leon. Whereas Leon had that old-time, authentic flavor, a bit like a real original Coke, Grenada is the Ultra Lemon-Lite-Diet variety, somehow losing it's authenticity to chase after the tourist dollar, which is does very well. And which is not to say that it is not an extremely pleasant, wonderful place. The buildings are outstanding, the colors are spectacular, it's as comfy really as Antigua. But....too many tourists, too many Americans (for my liking) , some actually say 3 in 4 are ex-pats. Prices are much higher than further afield, although a great Margarita is $2.25 US. Heard a woman singing Karaoke off-key in English last night on the way home.

Food is superb. Home made tortillas for breakfast, along with Gallo Pinto, rice and black beans which when cooked, are then sauteed together. Moros y Christianos. Tasty. You pay a bit more to eat the special exported beef, and, unfortunately, coffee, the main export, shows up at our table as perked, weak Hills Brothers. All the good stuff is shipped out.

Took a long morning to visit Villa Esperanza barrio today with Empowerment International, the non-profit who is sponsoring our trip. They work with 200 younger school kids, trying to keep them in school. Most of the staff is from Colorado and Santa Fe. The students put on an 'acto,' which we did a lot in Salvador, with young children dancing and performing , with fancy costumes and makeup,for us, their special guests. We toured the barrio, visiting homes made of tin pieces,leftover wooden planks, with the clean hardened mud floor, tin roof. LOTS of people in small spaces, the women hand wash the clothes every day to keep their 5 or so kids in clean clothes. One woman said her husband hadn't sent his monthly money yet from Costa Rica, and she was very worried. In addition to the really poor living conditions, it is hot, hot, hot here, and humid. It was memory lane again, Peace Corps deja vu. Didn't see where they bathe, probably pretty casually as there were no formal bathrooms. We walked the 1/2 hour back to Grenada in the heat, and collapsed after lunch until our group excursion to the city cemetery for Day of the Dead.

November 2, Day of the Dead, is much more straightforward in Nicaragua than in Mexico, no mystic overtones, no real visual punch for us photogs, but it certainly has a greater pull for the townspeople as a whole. Thousands have come during the last two days to decorate graves with sparse sprigs of fresh flowers, a few garlands, but mostly a limited offering. Lots of whacking away at weeds with machetes on overgrown plots. Many young people. (Actually there are LOTS of young people here, and many loitering teenaged boys, obligatory baseball hats perched on backwards.) Only saw two lit candles on graves, and everyone took off after sundown, which is around 5:30 here. The front section is the high rollers home turf, and the size and value of the grave markers diminishes as one walks further back into the huge acreage. The simplest wooden crosses were in the far end. My favorites.

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1 comment:

  1. We missed you guys last night! Did you rock the house? We arrived to find a television set in each room - so after a quick somber dinner (CNN from 7:00 to 7:30 pm was brutal to watch). We watched from the saftey of our beds. Which is probably good since I could not stop crying. Does that still make me a 9 or am I exiled to some other number? See you soon!!