If you really want to experience the culture in Nicaragua, then go to a parade. Bombas burst, drummers rat-tat-a-tat, horns blast soulfully, and vendors shout enthusiastically. Vibrant colors assault the eyes, while smells of perfumed flowers and freshly shampooed hair swirl through the crowds. Sweat drops on freshly pressed costumes, children lick melted drips of ice cream from their chins, while La Gigantona entices the crowds with fruit laden hats and remembrances of traditions of long ago. Everyone loves parades in Nicaragua…and I’m no exception.
I know nothing about cowboys except for watching the reruns of Bonanza and the movie City Slickers. My perception of cowboys was tainted with visions of sitting around smoky campfires sharing dirty jokes, ten gallon hats shading sweaty bodies from the scorching sun, gun fights at the OK Corral, rollin’ the Bull (rolling Bull Durham cigarettes), and saving damsels in distress.
So, when we arrived in Matagalpa, where their annual Hipica (horse parade) was prancing through the puddled streets, I expected to rekindle the memories of the old reruns.To my surprise, real Nicaraguan cowboys cannot compare to the horseback sissies on TV.
La Hipica is a machismo event of handsome, rugged caballeros proudly parading their best steeds through the meandering streets of the city. It reminds me of a mancation on steroids. Riding tall in the saddle, the vaqueros (cowboys) display their riding expertise by how little beer or Guaron (homemade moonshine) sloshed out of their plastic cups, while their horses dance a high-step trot to the beat of deafening trumpets.
Bosomy women draped in colorful ribbons, lace, and leather follow the handsome vaqueros, while mini-vaqueros ( little boys) demonstrate their damn good riding skills on ponies…or on saddled cows. Squished between the macho and the seductive are roving bands on truck beds. The trumpets blare and the gigantic speakers transmit thumping vibrations, like a small earthquake, that shiver through our bodies.
La Hipica is a parade of pride, a raucous display of everything that represents a real cowboy. It is a bombardment of the senses, not to mention that it was pouring rain during the parade, which added to the excitement. Nicaraguan cowboys are now at the top of my A list. They have a rugged mystique about them, which I’m sure I will fantasize about for weeks to come. This loca gringa ain’t no city slicker no moe!