The morning started with incessant fireworks blazing through the window of my hostel dorm room. It was 7am and I could hear the clamour of people drinking just below me. I peeled myself from the sheets and decided that if the party had already started, I might as well join it and have a beer for breakfast.
I knew that the whole week had been leading up to this one day, but at 7am no one can really get anything straight - at least not me. Semana Santa, also known as the Holy Week, also known as just another excuse to party in Central America, was in full force - the shooting fireworks were there to confirm it.
The streets were dressed in flower-carpets, energetic and bright, that the local Nicaraguan women and children had been preparing for days. People were clothed in their usual colorful attire, and there I was wearing sunnies, an oversized singlet, and no shoes. Sure, I loved living in Nicaragua for the great weather and happy people, and not to mention, learning a different language was pretty cool, but what I loved most was holidays like this one - where the culture of the country, it’s true colours came out.
During the procession, men carried religious statues on their shoulders as they walked through the streets and destroyed the vibrant carpets of flowers. Days of preparation all for this: just one parade of people marching through the cobblestoned alleys. And so it went, a washing away of all the sins that had passed.
As I stood there, I couldn’t help but think that just one year before I had been on the other side of the world in Thailand. Although April in Nicaragua was The Holy Week, the same time of year in Thailand marked the new year, also known in the Buddhist tradition as Songkran.
Songkran ran from April 13-15 and it was one of the wildest parties I had ever been a part of in Asia. According to the Buddhist religion, water is a sacred part of the holiday, as it washes away any sins committed in the previous year - sort of the way the Semana Santa flowers had been destroyed. In this way, it begins the next year fresh and pure.
I had heard about Songkran for months before it had arrived - I had the SuperSoaker to prove it. Thai people, young and old, rich and poor alike, all gathered in the streets, soaked from head to toe, as laughter filled the dirt roads all the way up to the clouds. As it turned out, I hadn’t been the only one packing an old school nerf gun: Thai kids had all kinds of water toys, water filled balloons, and straight up buckets of water. Though it was meant to be somewhat religious, Songkran turned into one massive New Year’s water party in the streets of Thailand - and in backpacker lingo, that translated to: it got loose as fuck.
As I pulled myself back from the memory, the day went on in Nicaragua, and Semana Santa progressed: the fireworks continued to burst, the locals continued to drink, and I enjoyed reminiscing on years past, and how fortunate I felt to have been able to experience so much of the world thus far. Years on the road, living out of a backpack, and I wasn’t anywhere near done. I was ready to see the whole world - near, far, and everywhere in between.
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