Early one Sunday morning, two others and myself decided to venture inland to Rivas, although technically, our movement within Nicaragua was restricted to San Juan del Sur. Catching a rickety bus, complete with the paraphernalia of live chickens and farm produce being transported to the market in Rivas. Crawling up through the rolling hills which up to then, only made an impression as the back drop to the inland view of San Juan del Sur from the bay. A magnificent sight greeted the approach to the part of the road which ran along Lake Nicaragua – that of the two volcanoes of Ometepe Island rising in the lake, a large freshwater body, which was home to a few active volcanoes and what was once thought to be a freshwater species of sharks. The sharks were found to be bull sharks that could cross the rapids of San Juan river in making their way from the Caribbean.
Located within reach of Lake Nicaragua, Rivas struck me as a large market town. An old Spanish colonial church dominated the town. A large dusty clearing served as the bus station as well as a meeting point of sorts. I don’t quite remember where the makeshift bull ring was in relation to the bus station, but make it there we did. A large crowd had gathered in the stands surrounding the bull ring for the weekly event. Touted as a bull fight, it seem more of a rodeo, than my impressions of bullfights influenced by what I had seen and read of the colourful mainstream version of the land of the Conquistadors. The highlight of the event, was the rodeo like riding of bulls, amidst the loud cheers of the spectators, punctured by the youthful shouts of “Enchiladas” , “Bebidas” and I can’t really remember what else. We stayed until the evening, absorbing the carnival like atmosphere, which seemed so surreal in the midst of the dire situation that the country was in.