Apr 182014
 

It’s 9:00pm on Good Friday coming to you live and direct from Hostel Latina in Leon.  I’ve been here just over 24 hours and I’m ashamed to say I’ve made the executive decision to skip tonight’s beach party due to returning home at 5:00am this morning following last nights festivities.

One day in Leon has eclipsed seven days in Granada where I was literally bored out of my mind.  The novelty of the nicely painted churches and buildings wore off in about one hour and then I quickly found myself starting to go crazy surrounded by American retirees and older “tourists’ with very little in the way of nightlife or social scene.

Parque Central Granada

View from Parque Central (Grenada) looking at the main cathedral

Leon is definitely not as ‘pretty’ as Granada however I think that adds to its character.  It’s definitely got a younger feel here probably due to the large university campuses nearby.  There are a few good options for nightlife, some great street food around the Mercado and decent cafes and restaurants.

Catedral de León

Cathedral of León

Anyway I wanted to write a short post about my first experience spending a main public holiday outside Australia.  Apart from Christmas/New Years Eve, the Easter period is the holiday Australia shares with christian countries around the world.

For me personally, Good Friday has to be one of the most boring days of the year.  Due to not being an active follower of any religion I found the public holiday frustrating due to practically everything being closed.  There are not many people on the streets around town as most people obviously spend time with their loved ones at home or go away somewhere.

Sawdust carpet are layers of colored sawdust laid on the ground as decoration, traditionally to greet a religious procession which walks over it.

Sawdust carpet are layers of colored sawdust laid on the ground as decoration, traditionally to greet a religious procession which walks over it.

Nicaragua (and in particular Leon) is an entirely different kettle of fish.  Sure the country has a large christian community and like Australia many locals use the holiday to get away and enjoy themselves.  However that’s where the similarities probably end as I was pleasantly surprised today to find nearly all cafes and street vendors open business as usual.  Apart from banks and supermarkets being closed, you really wouldn’t think Good Friday was different to any other working day.

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The streets were chock full of colour and activity today.  There were people everywhere from street vendors to families to people creating the customary sawdust carpets.  The Spanish bought this tradition to Central America and today I learnt these beautiful works of art are made of sawdust and other materials to greet the religious processions which march over the carpets later in the day.

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In Central America the week leading up to Easter is known as Semana Santa.  Whilst the religious holiday is very important to many of the locals I really enjoy that the religious aspect is not ‘in your face’ as it is in many other places around the world.  As a non-follower of any religion it allows for one to appreciate the cultural aspect at their own pace.

For me today had a strong community and social feel to the day than any religious significance (even though visually it was very much visible).  It was such a great experience to see how other parts of the world celebrate holidays of special significance and definitely is a big bonus for any travel plans that coincide.

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And on that note it’s time for me to get some much-needed sleep! Wishing all my friends around the world a happy holiday period and for my christian friends a Happy Easter.

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