Sara in the Land of Dengue

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Feria de Santo Domingo

August 1 marked the first of a 10 day celebration in honor of the patron saint, Santo Domingo. It was a holiday, but my work partner had requested we meet and go over the paper we are writing. I worked for the morning from home and then left the house in the afternoon to meet with him. We met at our usual meeting spot, the mall (MetroCentro) and there he surprised. “We are not working today – we are going to go see Santo Domingo!”
He whisked me off down the street. This was at 2pm and the sun was hotter than at 4pm, for reference. We got to the rontunda de Santo Domingo which is normally a huge busy intersection. It had been closed to traffic and a stage set up, there were groups of young people doing traditional dancing and a man trying to do an impersonation of Cantinflas (the accent was painful).
The crowd was immense, but nothing compared to what was to come as the Saint showed up. Amongst the crowd were men covered in what looked like a black oil or paint. They were supposed to represent some sort of evil but also a blessing because people would reach out and wipe of the paint to put on themselves. These people were mainly poor, in tattered cloths without shoes. They would occasionally reach out hoping for some generous person to drop some change into their hands.
The remains of the Saint are kept in a town outside of Managua and on the morning of the 1st they are taken from the church and brought down to Managua. The trip takes all day. At 3pm there was an immense roar as the first people caught site of the saint. Then the crowd grew to an uncountable number and people started pushing, dancing and shoving to get close. We walked, stumbled and danced with the Saint for an house until it reached the ‘boat’ a truck that takes him to the church of Santo Domingo where he will stay until Aug. 10th when he is returned to the town outside of Managua.

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