The specifics of how it all started are not clear in my head right now, but I remember it was a quick chat – What are you doing for the winter break? Can I come? And so Abhinav and I bought tickets for a Central American adventure.
It was a backpacking trip which required a backpack so after extensive googling, I zero-ed in on this one – and it proved very good for the trip.
Fast forward to landing in Guatemala and reaching Antigua – I immediately fell in love with the city with its cobbled stone streets, beautiful coloured houses, exotic street lamps and lovely Christmas Angel decorations. We reached on 24th Dec evening which was the perfect timing as Guatemalans celebrate Christmas on 24th eve.
I felt I was in the book ‘Alibaba and 40 Thieves’ – teleported into a different time where life was slower and simpler. You could walk the whole city (it was almost only around 10 by 10 blocks). Most houses were single-storied with heavily decorated/casted doors and grilled windows with flowers. At a point, Abhinav said I was obsessed with taking pictures of the doors and windows!
Backpacking means staying at a backpacking hostel (does it really?!) – our hostel was one of the fewer buildings that was three-storied, so called the Terrace Hostel. As midnight struck, the sky lit up in fireworks at all angles – I felt it was Diwali! Fireworks against the backdrop of volcanoes was a beautiful one and we could see sparks coming from slightly far-off mountain villages too.
There are some things that Nicaraguans love:
1) Hammocks – they are everywhere, of every size imaginable, made from all different types of material (from net, to plain cloth, to just wrapping a long cloth around two poles) – it could be seen in hotels and in small hut houses.
2) Rocking chairs – I think I saw the most varied types of rocking chairs in my life in the 5 days there. Walking through the city when we caught a glimpse of houses, most of them did not have sofas, instead they had rocking chairs. Made from cane, from wood, from metal, from cane with metal stands, you name it – it was everywhere. If only I could fit one in my backpack, I would have a lovely souvenir.
3) Nicaraguan women wore these pretty lace-y half aprons – wonder what they call them, but they were mostly white with pockets and tied across the waist on top of their dresses. Looked very convenient and handy to carry money, phone, etc – sort of like a fashion accessory without the hassle and with convenience – I wonder if different cities/families had different patterns.
Similarly, the Mayan women of Guatemala loved embroidery – waist belts, scarves, wrap skirt, extensively threaded blouses – they seemed to have many pieces to their daily wear and all of them looked pretty! One of the postcards I got shows a Mayan women dressed up in her gear and it is beautiful 🙂
Apparently Mayans were called Indians too, so we found company in our clan.