The Russian Navy

Strong easterly winds billowing toward the Pacific churn high waves yanking the boat up then splashing it down spraying water over the bow and on to me. I am speeding across Lake Cocibolca [Lake Nicaragua], the largest fresh water lake in Central America, in a Russian made hydrofoil. It is a remnant of the tribute paid to the recently rebelling Sandinistas by the Soviet Union. Signs marking the location of exits, the engine room and seating are all in Russian. The local people laden with bulky paper wrapped packages, fresh fruits heaped in bulging plastic bowls, and babies wrapped tightly to their mothers in brightly colored shawls don’t seem to mind.After nearly four hours of bumping and swaying the two volcanic peaks of Ometepe Island peer from behind rolling clouds. A family in a pick-up truck offers me a ride from the dock to the Altagracia city center where I spend the day trudging up and down big hills which dot the city and surrounding country side.

At a church perched high atop the main avenue the bells echo loudly signaling some important event. It is a wedding. The men wear the familiar dark jackets and narrow ties. A few don neatly pressed white shirts. The women are mixed. Some wear modern western dresses with high heeled shoes. Others prefer long colorful traditional dresses and blouses with ruffled collars occasionally highlighted by gold necklaces.The groom a pencil thin younger man dances for the crowd which has lined the long steep steps leading into the church. After the ceremony a procession of all of the revelers, led by the newly hitched couple, walk their way down the steep hill and into the town where the real party begins.

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