Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas in Latin America with the RebelAngel

At the phone company's show in Granada
In Nicaragua, the holiday season is more about family and food and less about a glut of consumer goods. O, and fireworks. Last week's Festival of the Virgin was all about loud bombas in the street, day and night. My eardrums barely survived.

Granada is a small city, and unless we take the bus to the mall in Managua, we never see billboards, rarely ever encounter a shiny advertisement, and have very few decked-out window displays to ogle. Since the only TV in the house is in the guest house, we rarely ever watch TV or see ads either. Our house is on a street with no commercial businesses, barring the gym down the street and the pulperias -- the home-based convenience stores where you can buy things like emergency packets of coffee, eggs, soda, little bags of Tang and cookies.

The commercialization of Christmas is almost non-existent, and that feels nice. Last week one of the two mobile phone companies set up a huge stage in the central park, complete with a Santa booth, dancing ballerinas on stage and lots of lights and loud music.

The show was set up in the park, right in front of Granada's big yellow parochial church -- the most well-recognized landmark in town, where bullets from the executions that happened during American William Walker's 19th-century revolution are still embedded in the exterior walls -- a wild juxtaposition of the clash between tradition and commercialization.

I looked around at the Nicas enjoying the show, and i had to fret a little about how this type of Christmas was creeping in here, and right in front of their beloved church at that. To get to take part in the bazaar and see Santa and get the kids' faces painted, you had to buy a Movistar phone card to recharge your phone. We watched what we could from outside the gates.
Bright blacklights on the tree

Decorating our fake white tree with blinking blue blacklights and our plans of making a big meal and sipping yummy drinks are the things we are thinking about this holiday -- not so much about all the things we want.

Still, the things the rebelangel does want are, as always, stretching my budget. The other parent has only just recently gotten a phone that allows him to email his daughter, so he's been nearly silent all these months we've been here -- and of course, that means silent with any sort of financial benefits as well. It's easier to get by here, but not so much easier that support from the other parent wouldn't be welcome. We'll survive and thrive as we always do, and this year, we'll also be getting a tan on Christmas day.


At the mall in Managua, where the
other phone company hosts Santa

Speaking of fathers' contributions, I love it when i find sites that endeavor to empower men to be strong fathers and to take on some of the tasks that have traditionally been left to women -- and especially when those conversations take place in the traditionally-machismo culture of Latin America. Check out Súper Papá, a Costa Rica-based site designed to empower the modern father. (Hint: use the Google Translate feature to translate the site into English)

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