In November and December, be sure not to miss the posses of young boys hammering away at snare drums while a huge Gigantona (a papier-mâché, Rio Carnaval-style figure of an elegant colonial-era woman, directed from underneath by a teenager) weaves among them. Traditionally, the boys are given a few córdobas for a recital of poetry, typically that of national bard Rubén Darío. The gigantonas are judged during the festivities of La Purísima (a festival celebrating the Virgin Mary’s conception) on December 7, with the best winning a prize.

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Nicaragua features

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