Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Well, here we are... the last days of training! How incredible is that? The days are long here but the weeks have flown by, especially the last few. Swearing-in is at the end of this week, after which we will be honest-to-goodness bonafide Volunteers (complete with capital "V").

Last week we had mini-vacation of sorts, because of Holy Week. Nicaragua is a very Christian country (mostly Catholic), so Semana Santa is a big deal here. There´s no school all week, and Thursday through Sunda almost nothing is open. Lots of people go to the beach -- it´s the middle of summer here, and hot; perfect beach weather if you don´t mind a sunburn -- or vacation somewhere: León and Granada are both popular hot spots.

The evangelical churches here don´t do much to celebrate the occasion, but there are Catholic services every day, usually centering around processions. They start on Palm Sunday with a procession with palms and usually an "imagen" -- a statue -- of Jesus; in our town he was even mounted on a live donkey. The imagen went on a few other walks to different parts of town during the week, but the biggest deal started on Friday. All over Nicaragua people walk the "Via Cruz" in the middle of the day in the blazing sun, sometimes on their knees. That procession usually goes for a few hours, and then on Friday night there´s another procession. In my town, the imagen of Jesus was put in a glass coffin lit up -- they processed around town with it like that from about eight at night to more or less one am, accompanied by a marching band playing mournful music at top volume (because no Nicaraguan procession is complete without a marching band).

Saturday night there was a mass here for Easter Vigil, and another service on Easter Sunday itself, but they were very low-key after Friday´s excitement.

Another common thing here during Semana Santa is giving food -- we have literally a bucket of rosquillas sitting on our kitchen table which people have given us. Delicious!

There are lots of other cool things here during Semana Santa -- for example, in León they make all sorts of beautiful pictures out of sand on the streets, and when they´re finished, everyone processes over them. Maybe next year I´ll visit see it first hand.

First things first, though. Swearing-in, here I come!

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