Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Unholy Holy Week Processionals In Granada, Nicaragua

God doesn't want me to smoke.

That must be why I couldn't go the Plasencia Cigar finca in Esteli, Nicaragua for Holy Week in April.  It was the longest holiday I would have from the hell that my teaching job at Berlitz Costa Rica had become since January, and I planned well ahead.  So I thought.

(I realize simply because I smoke cigars, many Americans have already put me in the same category as Nazis, child rapists and baby seal murders.  You can go return to your healthy lifestyle of eating bacon & maple syrup milkshakes and getting important updates on Kim Kardasian & Kanye West's baby.)

Three weeks before the holiday I contacted a Couchsurfer who fortunately was an executive manager for Plansencia.  He offered me a place to stay and arranged a personal tour to show me around the expansive tobacco farms - cigars included.  Once I got that arranged I went to Transnica in San Jose to find a bus to Esteli, Nicaragua.
"We have no buses to Esteli for Semana Santa.  All cancel.  Only to Granada."
It's a culturally-significant object
Shit.  I'm going to Granada then.  At least I can renew my visa, get drunk off cheap Flor de Cana rum and buy some real Nicaraguan cigars.  I heard Granada had exceptionally beautiful Spanish colonial-era architecture, so it would be worth visiting for a weekend of picture-taking.  Sometime I care about those cultural things.

The week I was to leave for Granada a Swiss Couchsurfer showed up at our San Jose apartment with no specific plans.  Thanks to my American charm, I convinced her to travel to Nicaragua with me before she continued on to the rest of Central America.  Fortunately, she is as equally sarcastic and cynical as I am, otherwise we would've ended up killing each after the 3 days we spent in close quarters going to Nicaragua.  She did have a Swiss Army knife.

That's not a joke.

Crossing the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border is a pain in the ass...especially during Holy Week.  Basically every single Nicaraguan that works legally (and illegally) in Costa Rica goes back home to see their families and join in depressing religious processionals.  The temperature also magically goes up about 100 degrees when you enter Nicaragua.  This one time I was glad I took Transnica and not the local "chicken buses."  Between borders you have to switch bus routes, which means waiting hours in a infinite line to cross the actual border.  With Transnica you stay on the same bus.

I did return alone by local buses. Ugh.  That requires a separate post.

Swiss Miss and I had a reservation at Hostel Oasis Granada.  She was a serious backpacker, and had many things she wanted to see and visit in the area.  I had put in 3 months of teaching 50+ hours a week, so I didn't want to do shit other than drink, smoke, sleep and get laid.  We agreed to see some of the depressing Semana Santa religious processional and go out in the evening together, but didn't see each other for most of the trip.  It was for the better.  The hostel was in a beautiful historical building with a central garden, a pool, lots of hammocks and free coffee.  I walked around town and took some pictures in the mornings, but spent most of the afternoons sleeping in the hammocks, swimming and playing guitar.  It's too damn hot in Granada to do much else.

We did see one of Granada's Semana Santa processionals (there are many.)  It was depressing.  And extremely religious.

Holy Week Processional
Catholicism is all about suffering, and this ceremony certainly emphasizes the suffering.  You are in the middle of the humidity and blazing midday sun.  There's a sweaty crowd following around a giant statue of a cross-bearing Jesus as a ragtag brass band plays a sad cacophony of noise.  Possibly it's the unbearable heat, or maybe the musicians are hungover from the previous night's party, but no one can find the rhythm, and no one is in tune.  As a musician myself, I felt an urge to smash the uninspiring musicians over their heads with their own instruments.  The cacophony is occasionally disturbed by a long Bible sermon delivered with all the excitement of a Board of Directors meeting fueled by Quaalude & Sizzurp martinis.

I'm sure many Christians are wishing me a swift trip to hell now.  Ironically, this scene of religious fervor is one of my many imagined dreams of what hell is.  Listen:

Neither Swiss Miss or I are suddenly inspired to praise Jesus.  We heard about the nighttime processional and have no desire to see it.  We leave the sad Catholic processional before the sheer depression of it causes us to commit suicide.       

No comments:

Post a Comment