Our plane landed in Managua, Nicaragua on April 23rd, where we were picked up by a taxi arranged by G Adventures and taken to our first stop of the trip – Granada. Our drive to Granada was beautiful – reminded me of Sri Lanka, with its colourful houses and palm trees and flowers. Bougainvilleas were everywhere! Parrots and other beautiful birds were flying over us from tree to tree, and the sky was filled with the sounds of different birds.
We arrived at Hotel Chilamates – named for 3 chilamates trees around the property. April 23rd is Earth Day, which is a national holiday in Nicaragua (how awesome is that?! 😀 ) , complete with fireworks and parades! Outside of the property, we could hear the sounds of fireworks (even during the day!) and what sounded like drums.
We went to dinner into the city and I tried my first ever fish tacos from a store claiming to make the best fish tacos in Granada. I’ve never had Fish Tacos before so I had nothing to compare it to – but it was most definitely delicious! The streets were paved with cobblestones and alive with music, lights and dancing! The particular street that we were on was Calle La Calzada, which is a popular destination for tourists.
We also got our first glimpse of Nicaraguan folklore – particularly, La Gigantona. La Gigantona is a big doll which can be up to three meters tall, usually made of wood, wearing a colourful dress and lots of jewellery. La Gigantona represents the tall white Spanish women that came from Spain during colonization. Along with La Gigantona, there are three other characters who are usually a part of the street act. The first is El Enano, a small dwarfish figure with a big head, symbolizing the intelligence of the native population. Next is, El Coplero, who is the person who recites popular folk verses. Finally, the Tamborilero are the drum players. As the drummers play their drums, La Gigantona and El Enano dance along, while El Coplero recites poems that are meant to ridicule people. You can pay El Coplero and ask him to recite a poem that ridicules yourself or someone with you. La Gigantona itself is meant to show that the Spanish women can not dance, and the way they move the doll from side to side without much rhythm is meant to represent that. It’s basically a big act that makes fun of white people, and anyone else that you want made fun of. I loved that people did not take this as an offensive thing. It’s meant to be light hearted and fun, and encourages people to laugh at themselves.