Hipicas, or horse parades, are common place in much of Latin America. In Nicaragua they take their hipicas seriously, but none so seriously as la hipica de Granada. Usually when driving the countryside in Nicaragua one sees skinny, sickly, worked to the bone horses along the roadsides. It is certainly refreshing to see such high dollar and well kept horses at the hipica. Big money people and associations attend the hipica to showcase their hobbies and interests.
Okay, now for an ordinary person's experience of the hipica. We were invited to a house party along the hipica route on Calle Corrales about a half mile from the end of the parade route. The couple who live in the house gave an open invitation to expats in Granada to attend. We, of course, would not turn down food and drink so we graciously accepted the invite. The home was situated about 4 feet above the street giving us ideal views of the horses, floats, and revelers. The parade started off slowly and had a trickling of riders pass through. Then, the gridlock happened when a horde of humanity and gorgeous horses piled through at the same time. There was no leadership in the parade just anything goes whenever it goes.
The gridlock wouldn't normally be an issue but many of the horse riders were drinking heavily and the crowds were loud and spooking out the horses. We felt the parade could easily turn for the worse if a horse decided to bolt and trample the crowd. Luckily, for us, we were high enough above the mayhem not to be bothered. The gridlock did subside after a while and the floats started to go by. The floats had Tona girls on them, which is Nicaragua's answer to the Budweiser girls back in the U.S. After the floats went by we decided to call it a night before it got too crazy on the streets for our young family.
As we walked in the direction of our house the real thick gridlock happened. People were drinking, the music thumping and the crowd merged into one swaying mass of humanity. On one side, the horses were pinned in by screaming drunks being ridden, for the most part, by drunks. Elise even saw one of the horse riders drinking straight from a tequila bottle, like a bandito would have done in a Hollywood western. This is when we knew we had to hightail it out of there and quickly. We pushed our way through the throngs of people and yes some of them are professional pick pockets. We finally made it to the other side and made a B-line for home.
The hipica is great for someone in their 20's or 30's. For a family, we still think it is worth seeing but you have to get out of their before the raging partying begins, like we did. In fact, on our way out, we saw lots of families leaving at the same time so we were not alone in knowing when the time was right. I could not even imagine being separated from a child in that mass of people, you always have to hold on to each other tightly.
Some practical considerations before going to the hipica or running of the bulls is not to take a wallet or anything large and valuable. Go with a few hundred Cordobas and not much more. For me, I kept a close guard of my iPhone wedging it in my pocket making it difficult to steal. Also knowing when to call it a night will make all the difference in this otherwise fun and exhilarating event. As for us, Granada has been in party mode since two Fridays ago making this the 11th day of nonstop bottle rockets, loud music, fiestas, and revelry. We have another 6 days to go before the city slows down and reverts to normalcy. We are tired, no actually we are exhausted and at the same time are amazed to see how much energy the residents of this city have for their celebrations.
|This house was featured on House Hunters International about 4 years ago.|
|Getting to know some of the new neighbors.|
|Two happy campers.|
|Friends from around the world including Canada, Argentina, Chile, U.S. and Germany to name a few.|
|Sierra watching over Gabriel before the parade.|
|Even the tiny like candied apples|
|Our vantage point for the hipica|
|Relaxing with new friends.|
|The parade started off slowly but then got crazy.|
|Even the young were caballeros.|
|The Tona girls|
|Me gusta las chicas de tona.|
|Sierra and the other kids of our group were invited to hope on a horse.|
|Viva Tona, just kidding I actually like Victoria Classica better.|
|As the sun was setting the parade started to thicken up.|
|We finally walked through the massive crowd in the background on our way home|
|Horses on the right marching into the crowds straight in front of them.|