Uf, well I'm feeling pretty sick today. I've got a fever and achy skin, a headache and a sore tummy, so we'll just see how witty and erudite I can manage to be while feeling like, as my little sister Crasey likes to say, "inside-out-flaming-asshole." I'll do my best, and where I fail, I hope some of these pictures take up the slack.
Today somebody asked me what it was that I liked so much about Latin America, what it was that kept me coming back again and again. Strangely enough, in 12 years of travels in Latin America, that was the first time anybody had asked me that question, and I was momentarily stumped. What is it that I like so much about coming down here? God knows it's not cause it's easy and beautiful and safe and clean, though at times and in places it is. It isn't because I love the culture so much I want to become a part of it, though I do enjoy and admire Latin American culture. I think that what I like so much is the contrast. I don't know, I guess it's just that no matter what is going on, it's always, at the very least, interesting.
This past weekend in León was an exercise in Latin American contrast. One of the oldest, grandest cities of colonial central America, it was founded in 1524 by conquistador Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, it's chock full of beautiful old churches, historic buildings with walls up to three feet thick, and cobbled streets. Out of windows and off rooftops, you get views like this:
And how's this for completely wonderful, the city is dotted with stone lions!
I always love me some stone lions.
Alta and I puttered about happily, strolling through the streets, taking pictures, oohing and aahhhing over gorgeous churchfronts
marching bands in the street, little boys attacking piñatas,
and a church processional carrying a huge float with a lifesized model of their patron saint around the central plaza.
We did pause to wonder why the streets in another part of the city were virtually empty, why people were setting off rockets so frequently that it sounded like the city was under bombardment, and why there were police all over the place, but in the end, we just shrugged it off and kept wandering. Meanwhile, in another part of the city, demonstrators set fire to a car, shut down the road to Managua, and staged conflicting protest marches along routes destined to collide. Hence, the enormous police presence. But how wild is that, you know? Political demonstrations, religious processionals, colonial architecture, kids with piñatas, rocket fire, burning cars. What else could you want in a vacation spot?
Ooh, I know, how about a drive-by kissing from a half-naked guy in a horse-drawn cart?
Okay, I'm feeling wiped out, so no more chatter. I'm off to drug myself and go to sleep for the next 48 hours.