Greased-up tree trunks and firework bulls

>> Thursday, October 04, 2007

Last weekend we went with to la alborada (I don’t know how that translates). It’s a nominally religious festival for San Miguel, and for that reason it was at Iglesia San Miguel in Masaya. We were originally attracted by the prospect of people climbing a greased-up tree to get a prize. When we got there, though, we were pretty surprised to find out that it was also a fireworks show. I feel like we talk a lot about fuegos artificiales, but they're pretty invasive and a pretty consistent theme to life here (for example I heard some go off as I was writing that sentence). Fireworks in Nicaragua are scary because they’re mostly homemade and would most certainly be outlawed in at least 45 states in the US. There are a few types—the one most frequently encountered is one that goes into the air and makes a lot of noise. Then there’s the rare one that goes into the air and makes noise along with some colors and lights. The loudest one is a ground-rumbling firework that can be heard miles away. The final is one that you put into a torro (bull) hat and then use to chase after people:

Since words are inadequate to describe the terror you should feel upon seeing the bull for the first time, here’s a video to help you understand:
video
After the big fireworks the air is filled with sulfur and smoke, but chavalos still want their picture taken:
Holly and Miriam safely out of danger from the raging fireworks bull:
The whole festival centered around the greasy tree:
The promised pole-climb was a bit underwhelming because not many people were willing to do it. People were pretty smart about it, though. Instead of trying to climb it solo, a group of guys would climb on top of each other (sorry the picture is hard to see).
No one really got close while we were there because the guy on the bottom would always crumble and then all of the guys on the human ladder would slide down the tree. No one had gotten the prize (cash) in a little over two hours, so we decided to leave because it would go on until someone got it. We left to get some nancite helado and Holly spilled it all over herself and the ground but the picture has mysteriously been deleted (hmmm).

It turned out that a few minutes after we left someone got the prize, which of course only intensified the fireworks. Things finally settled down, but there is an exact replica of la alborada this weekend at a different church, but at least we can be prepared for the explosions this time.

2 comments:

Nancy 12:48 PM, October 07, 2007  

I'm beginning to see an opportunity for some enterprising person...open up a combination beer/fireworks stand with an urgent care health clinic in the back. I don't think you can go wrong.

Laura 2:21 PM, October 09, 2007  

I must know what "nancite helado" is! i've done google searches to no avail, and if something is that mysterious, than it must be good! do tell, you two! and until then, be good, and go crazy on the nancite helado.

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