We first visited Nicaragua 3 years ago. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the other worldly sounds of conch shells and cow bells in the street. I climbed up on a chair to see a shuffling procession of children in the dark. I was watching an ancient pagan rite that had seeped into the Christmas celebrations and it seemed to symbolize the charmingly bizarre in Nicaragua.
Now I know it is part of the novena for the Niño de Dios, the nine days leading up to Christmas. At 4 am kids hit the street and walk around town making a lot of noise. There are firecrackers. It has only been part of Granada's traditions for 5 years because the priest at Guadelupe thought it would be a good thing to do. The procession was going by as my kids were going to school. It was just a bunch of kids walking around kicking plastic bottles through the street and occasionally blowing a conch shell.
I'm getting really tired. Since Nov. 28 there have been fire crackers every morning at 4:30. Of course 4:30 here is more like 7:30 in the states; a perfectly reasonable time to get up.