In a brief hiatus from covering the news, a mini vacation, I visited our neighbour to the north, Nicaragua.
Passing through Masaya and capital city of Managua, my final destination for a couple of days was the small community of Esquipulas, 105 kms (a 75 minute drive) from the capital city, in the department of Matagalpa.
This is mountainous territory in which the mountains and heights stand out: Cumaica, El Gorrión, El Castillo, Cerro el Padre, Peña de la Luna and Santa María. It also has two small lagoons: Las Piedras and Sebadilla. As minor flows are the gullies: La Grande, La Pita and Miragua.
Esquipulas has a tropical savannah climate, modified with warm and humid characteristics. The temperature oscillates between 25 and 27 Celsius, but it felt much hotter during my visit.
My visit not for sightseeing, rather for the celebration of the 90th birthday of wife’s my father-in-law, a man that other than a few aches and pains, lives a healthy life. He takes no pills, hasn’t seen a doctor since he can’t remember, plays the guitar and wonders off into town on his daily walk without a cane.
The main economic activity in Esquipulas is agriculture, based on the cultivation of corn and coffee in lands that are very fertile. Also important is cattle ranching, both to obtain meat and milk. A liter of fresh cow’s goes for 2 Cordobas and delivered to fresh to your door every morning.
The current government structure was founded in 1944, the region of Esquipulas is among the mountains wehre the Matagalpa indians inhabited before the Spanish Conquest. These had their own language, pottery, cocoa, orange and customs. The native name of the town was Kaulapa, name of Matagalpa indigenous origin. According to a legend, during the Spanish Conquest the inhabitants arranged to build a church on the site of a mountain that was bare, properly in the place where an image of a Black Christ (Cristo Negro in Spanish) was found. The first priest who visited the community called him Señor de Esquipulas (The Lord of Esquipulas.
Every year, town commemorates the appearance of the Señor de Esquipulas and the respective construction of the church where it was found. Their festivities are celebrated the days January 14 and 15.
On January 14, the pilgrimage to the diocesan sanctuary of Señor de Esquipulas takes place, the people stay up all night until the 15th for the mass that is celebrated at about 9 o’clock in the morning and presided over by the Bishop and all the clergy diocesan.
The town’s population is about 5,500 and during the January celebrations more than three times that take part in the annual event, when the entire municipality is filled with color and art in its streets with floral arrangements, festoons, musical bands and merchants who take advantage of this activity to obtain a little income.