Day of the Dead in Nicaragua

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
― Mark Twain

November 2nd is Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Nicaragua, when the cemeteries fill with family members decorating, cleaning, and painting the crypts of their loved ones. It’s a time to celebrate the dearly departed. Theresa and I walked to the Moyogalpa cemetery early this morning with flowers for our dead friends. We passed people with hoes, buckets of paint, brooms, and flowers…lots and lots of flowers.

IMG_3785The grave sites are picked clean of all weeds and the soft volcanic soil is raked. Then, they wash the crypts and apply a new coat of paint. Finally, family members and friends place beautiful flowers, little handmade skeletons, candy, and other bling-bling on the graves.

We walked along the paths admiring the variety of decorations, the arrangement of flowers, and the beautifully tiled and painted crypts. Even the poorest families, who couldn’t afford to make a crypt, lovingly placed flowers over the hills of dirt protecting their loved ones.

Theresa and I were looking for Jerry’s grave, the only foreigner buried in the Moyogalpa cemetery. We hadn’t been back to visit the cemetery since Jerry’s burial, so we couldn’t remember the exact location. Roaming workers directed us to the spot under the large Jicote tree shading his beautifully tiled crypt.
IMG_3800After a little chat with Jerry, and placing some flowers on his grave, we searched for Jose’s grave. “Excuse me,” I asked, but can you help us find Jose’s grave?” “He died 3 years ago. He was 24 years old and he worked at our house.”  Friendly and helpful Nicaraguans helped us search for Jose, but there were hundreds of Jose’s in the cemetery and we didn’t know his last name.   Some said he is buried in this dirt covered grave, but we didn’t know for sure. I placed my flowers beside the grave, and told Jose how much I missed him.
IMG_3805It was a lovely dia de muerte. R.I.P Jerry and Jose.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Parades of Culture

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.

A Parade of Adjectives

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   The Independence Day
Parade of Adjectives

numerous          young             passionate          proud
thundering         melodic           raspy                   loud
sparkling            metallic           curved                round
orange               black               red                     brown
macho               gay                  feminine             straight
two                    four                 six                       eight
lively                  eager              delightful              mute
wide-eyed         handsome       adorable              cute

Waiting for the Parade

Nicaragua became an independent nation on September 15, 1821…or so they thought! The Act of Independence, recognized by a representative of the Spanish crown, meant that Spain was finally out of the picture.  Yet, with the ink barely dry on the Act of Independence,  Nicaragua wasn’t truly independent until April 30, 1838.

Since then, Nicaraguans have fiercely protected their dreams of a free and sovereign nation. For example, when William Walker, a crazy filibuster from Tennessee, declared himself President of Nicaragua with the idea to annex the region to the United States, national groups with opposing viewpoints united against Walker’s threat. A bloody battle ensued at Hacienda San Jacinto and on September 14, 1856 the filibuster was defeated.

It seems to me that Nicaraguans are always waiting for the parade of dignity, respect, peace, and sovereignty. Today is Independence Day in Nicaragua. 153 municipalities celebrate with school parades and national rallies. On the eve of Independence Day, Rosario Murillo said, “These are times of dignity, peace, unity for prosperity, blessing and construction of victories. Everyday, there is heroism in the battle against poverty, illiteracy, improving health, education or saving lives in emergency situations such as in recent weeks. All these environmental crises, activation of volcanoes, tectonics plate, the activation of a climate we can not predict, all that is what we are living from the formidable spirit of the Nicaraguan race that knows of struggles and honor.”

Look closely at these faces waiting for the parade. They are the faces of formidable spirits that know and understand struggles and honor.

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