In a country steeped in tradition it’s understandable that traditional values, however outdated they may seem, are ingrained into the culture, bonded almost too tight to break. From our experiences here in Nicaragua it seems that the machismo culture is almost as much of a staple for these people as the rice and beans served up regularly for meals. However, every so often you encounter an unexpected attitude which simultaneously restores your hope of things getting better, and reminds you that such liberal opinions are few and far between.
For me, that moment came at the annual four day fiesta in Dipilto. In a makeshift corral young Nicaraguan men lined up to test their metal against the might of a bull. In the wake of such masculine posturing, donning of cowboy boots and riling a bull to the point where it will buck anyone who dares sit astride it off its back, it seemed almost fruitless to ask the question: ‘Are women allowed to ride too?’. The surprising answer of yes came from Nicaraguan lips, and subsequently British jaws dropped.
In fact there are several professional female bull riders in Nicaragua, although only one woman in recent years chose to brave the bulls of Dipilto, a woman who makes her living selling food by the roadside in Mozonte - the very road that happens to be beside our very own Casa Verde. Strange though it may be, in a country where woman are often treated as second class citizens tthat they are permitted to stand beside men and attempt to tame a bucking bovine. These women can be considered pioneers, whether they set out to be or not, women who grabbed the proverbial (and literal) bull by the horns and bucked the trend of male dominated sports in Central American countries. The fight against machismo attitudes is much like the wild ride of a bull at a rodeo; you calm your nerves, throw yourself atop and hang on for dear life. It may be that you fall off once, twice or even ten times, but if you keep at it and don’t give up eventually you might just make it to the other side, unscathed.
By Natalie Deans