Our bags arrived exactly 2 days later than we did, so we forcefully stayed in the capital of Honduras for almost 3 days, worrying about our belongings and avoiding numerous American fast-food chains. Luckily though, we got out as soon as our squished backpacks appeared at the aiport. First bus and we are far from the city that imposed such anxious feelings, headed straight for El Paraìso. Far from a paradise, but this is still a better option, even with the stench of old sheets and not enough water for both of us to shower. I`m just not a dusty city person.
El Paraìso is a short stop anyway. We decided to see Nicaragua first (apparently one of the safest Latin American countries accoring to Lonely Planet), and crossed the border at Las Manos first thing in the morning. So we`re spending Christmas in Estelì, a small town just outside a Nature Reserve, with a proper backpacker vibe and numerous hostels. Too bad we get slightly freaked out by the first tourists we see since we landed (what are these white poeple doing here?), and all the hostels are closed for Christmas day. It`s the 24th, which for the Poles is the biggest night of the year, with huge Christmas Eve (wigilia) family feasts, and I`m in the middle of some town having trouble finding a place to sleep. Perfect.
By a word of mouth, we find this little family run hospedaje with two rooms open to travelers and settle down there for the holidays. At least the place has a warm atmoshpere, and we get all excited seeing kids getting presents from under the little Christmas tree while every radio station is playing Felìz Navidad. We don´t even have a big dinner that night, too weary of the bus journeys. We already splurged for lunch, ordering an immense pancake dessert in this tiny restaurant that had the biggest, fattest, tackiest tree in the whole of Latin America (OK, maybe there are many other contestants, but… you know…). It looked like a chubby balerina with its thick ribbons and overtly shiny decorations. But I must admit, people around are quite creative. One of the cities we passed had a very nicely constructed `Christmas Tree`in the central square. Since you cannot spot a needle-bearing tree amongst all those banana ones, they put up a tall, upside-down turned cone covered in dry leaves with a few pastel colored lights and an artsy feel to it. Now I know, Christmas feel doesn`t always have to be so forced. Actually, one can bring winter-imposed Christmas customs to a hot country like this in a pleasant, no-hitsch manner.
So late Merry Christmas to you all, wherever it is celebrated!
Leòn (Nicaragua), 28 Dec. 2011