MANAGUA – Night falls and thousands of scary ghosts, devils, headless men and terrifying creatures from Nicaragua’s ancestral legends pour into the streets for the popular festival of Los Aguizotes, celebrated yearly south of Managua.
On the last Friday of October the folkloric city of Masaya becomes a sinister, funereal scene of eerie characters who dance to the music and light up the streets of the densely populated indigenous neighborhood of Monimbo with their candles, torches and handcrafted oil lamps.
The word Aguizote comes from the Nahuatl Indian words Agui, meaning water, and Zote, meaning horror, so that Aguizotes means “horrors by the water.”
Characters from different Nicaraguan legends fill the streets, like “La Llorona” (the tearful one), a suffering woman searching for her lost children, and others including a headless priest, a widow wearing a black veil and a red devil.
There are also carts pulled by skeletal oxen and driven by spirits, all representing the myths and legends of this Central American country.
The dark silhouettes of hundreds of people can be seen from afar with their oil lamps lit and including those who dare to “spit fire” from their mouths among the crowd.
Both national and foreign tourists are captivated by the procession with its characters that recall stories told by generations past and present.
“It’s mainly for the culture. My parents took me to see Los Aguizotes since I was 4 years old. It’s part of the culture of being Masaya,” a masked, kimono-clad Nicaraguan participant, Xavier Rodriguez, 24, told EFE.
Participants in this procession in the dark of night wear terrifying costumes and grotesque masks made by dozens of local artisans.
The actors in these frightening scenes are men, women and children doing their best to instill terror among the visitors.
“For me, Los Aguizotes is a time and place where our myths and legends come to life for a night and take over the streets and our hearts,” the spectator Wilmer Lopez, 27, who has come here four straight years, told EFE.
Los Aguizotes has been held since 1976 during the feast of St. Jeronimo, the patron saint of Masaya, and goes on without interruption from September to next December, being the country’s longest religious festival.