Saturday, January 18, 2014

Happy New Year's - Granada, Nicaragua

It was New Year's Eve. We had heard stories that Granada was crazy on New Year's Eve. We had asked around and found out the stuffed men we saw sitting on the sides of the roads and on the porches of homes were the old year (2013) which would be burned at midnight.

Old Man 2013

After my massage, I was drinking a cup of water waiting for Christy to get finished with her massage. I saw 2 men from the spa walk in with 8 wooden structures that looked like bulls. I asked about them, thinking it was something for children. Wow! Was I wrong!! They had bought them in the market and would light them on fire and run through the streets with them. I asked how you keep from starting on fire and he laughed and said "There are only 2 rules. 1. Run really fast! 2. Wear a hat." Ok. Sounded like something I wanted to watch. I asked where all if this would happen and he pointed to the street in front of Pure Spa. Christy walked out at this time and I explained what I had been told. We laughed that the calming zen spa was going to be running with fire tonight. Little  did we know what was waiting for us! 

Christy, Steve and I decided to do a progressive dinner and drinks. We would eat and drink our way around town. We decided to order one appetizer to share and then move on to the next place. We ate a variety of foods but decided the ceviche at Chakana Peruvian restaurant was the best. Once Christy and I got an order without cilantro (devil's spice) we devoured it!  Nom nom nom! 

Afterwards, as we were sitting on the pedestrian street enjoying drinks, when a parade of costumed people walked by with Old Man 2013. We finished our drinks and decided to follow the group. We did not want to miss the festivities! We walked back past a cathedral and noticed fireworks were set off from the front steps while mass was being delivered. Wow! I was shocked but we were later told that the priest gives money for fireworks to the parishioners. Oh well! Fireworks during mass...why not?!?! It was Nicaragua, anything goes.  

As we turned onto Calle Corrall, the locals were sitting on their doorsteps and on the sidewalks. Everyone was talking and excited. They were friendly and chatted with us, asking where we were from. It seems everyone has lived in the USA or had a friend or relative in the USA. The firemen and ambulance arrived and parked on the street. It was getting closer to midnight.
Policemen were walking through the crowds. At 11:30PM, a pole was put into the middle of the street and Old Man 2013 was tied to it. Everyone was taking photos with the stuffed man. As midnight approached, sparklers were placed at the feet of Old Man 2013. Steve's camera died. We were only 4 blocks from the hotel. It was 11:45PM.  This was going to be a night for photos. I ran to get my camera. I walked back through what felt like a war zone! Firecracker were flying through the air and popping on the street. Sirens were blaring and horns were honking. The party began at 11:55PM. Happy New Year! Children started throwing fireworks into the street. One flew towards me. I jumped back and got hit by a few sparks. Ouch! I arrived at the corner as the Old Man was set on fire! Fireworks flew into the sky.

Old Man 2013 burning (Christy and Steve on the curb on the right.)
A young boy was celebrating on his fathers shoulders. 

I looked down the street and could see the McCrosky's running my direction. I was happy when they reached me. Christy was laughing saying this was crazy, fun and fantastic! A local had told them they better move. Fireworks were flying. The Local looked at Christy and put his index and middle finger up in the #2 sign and pointed from her eyes to his and said "Tu ojos!" Then something that made her realize they were in danger and needed to run. Whew! Their eyes were fine and neither of them was burned or scorched. 
We all laughed as we said this is the craziest and most fun New Year's .....EVER! Wow! Then the real fun started!! Children were setting off fireworks. Then the craziness began. The paper bulls were brought out. A guy held it above his head and another man lit it on fire.
It had fireworks (sparklers) attached and went up in a fiery blaze. He ran towards the crowd! We looked at each other...#%€*!!! What was this? We laughed. It was a crazy mix of danger and fun. It was a fireball as he ran down the street towards the crowds. Bottle rockets exploded overhead. There was screaming, laughter and cheers from the bystanders. Here is a short clip. (2014 New Year's Fire Running)
All of my photos are a blaze of a fireball running by crowds of people. This scene was replayed for almost an hour. Then the firecrackers and dancing in the streets started. Attached is a short clip of the celebration. Video New Year's Celebration

I looked at Steve and Christy and said "Wow! That sobered me up fast!" They laughed and agreed. It was like a train wreck, you could not stop watching. Was it safe? No. Was it fun? Absolutely! I loved it! At 2:00AM, we walked back to our rooms laughing about the night. If this is what 2014 will be like, I can't wait for a year of facing fears head on, laughter, fun and pure joy. Happy New Year's! 

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