Nicaraguans love their drum lines, and the annual parade for the Hipico de Caballos satisfies. Every few minutes, a new noise is heard: sirens from the participating emergency services, drums from the various drum lines, music from giant black speakers. We escape most of the noise in the dining area of Hotel Dario, but not the tipsy Managuans who come in to take pictures in front of the fountain. They take dancing breaks in between the photos, holding their beers above their heads and swinging their hips gently in perfect time to the beat. On the street, Nicaraguans of every age are doing the same. Wiping sweat off their faces as they dance with sisters, daughters and mothers.
The next afternoon, we weave through the vendors and clusters of people drinking Tona. Every other person is wearing a cowboy hat, and the woman are beautifully made up. I’m not sure how they successfully wear make up in this heat.
We drift by a vendor selling freshly fried french fries. We cave after a few seconds, buying a bowl. We catch her before she covers them with Nica cheese. They’re crispy and delicious, not too salty or too hot. We pass on the candied apples and find a spot at the entrance of the parade route. Heavily made up drag queens cluster around, checking each others makeup and gossiping. Teenagers speaking Miami English pass by with a bottle of Flor de Cana and plastic cups.
As the parade starts, the crowd surges even more. We weigh the pros and cons of moving, and decide to find a new spot. Cutting through the streets, we arrive at Garden Cafe. We’ve found the perfect location. Horses, big and small, pass by dancing to the rhythm of the music. Flipping their hooves up and back, performing their tricks to please their owners. We cram to the sides of the street as the huge horses pass by, laughing despite our fear. The horses are some of the largest I’ve seen. It’s not hard to see six of them pulling a carriage at high speeds.
We watch the sky as rain threatens, choosing to skip the few blocks home before the storm rolls in. We make it inside just as the rain starts coming down.
The annual Granada Hipico de Caballos occurs every year in August, the week after the Hipico de Torros (Running of the Bulls). It’s a two day festival, starting with a parade down Calle Calzada the night before full of drum lines and beauty pageant participants and ending the next day with the parade of dancing horses. Expect 100-200 horses with riders, beginning at the bandstands set up in Parque Central and progressing down Calle Libertad to the lake. The best place to watch is near The Garden Cafe on Calle Libertad. This year the actual parade started close to four pm, although the police officers told us two thirty.