La Bomba: A Not So Silent Night
Granada took on a new personality for Christmas Eve. Rather than a handful of people sitting on their stoops to chit-chat while taking in the sights and sounds of the city’s night life, the doors and windows of the colonial homes on block after block were open displaying their Christmas decorations and lights for all to see. People congregated in groups, large and small, in front of the homes. Generations of families and friends greeted the strollers with “Feliz Navidad”. Kids vied for space in the streets with the adults to shoot off fireworks or launch the numerous types “bombas”, the explosives and sky rockets. The truly awe-inspiring missiles were those which were constructed locally using dynamite with prima-cord fuses. These brutes were wrapped in brown paper twists, placed into an upright, steel pipe-stand on the street and then lit with a long taper. The wee children, of course, were relegated to the curbs and steps to play with sparklers and ladyfingers.
As we were walking by the home of the Arana family we stopped to admire the multitude of lights and glimpsed a beautifully decorated tree in the back of the living room. The matriarch, Fatima, invited us to come inside to better appreciate their efforts. The home, built in the Spanish colonial style around an interior courtyard, was a lavish display of twinkling lights and ribbon wrapped columns. We were given a tour of the home by one of the daughters and admired each room festively decorated for the season. Later that evening, when we passed by the home again as we were walking to our house, we greeted the patriarch of the family, Emilio, sitting at the entry way overseeing his grandchildren setting off their firecrackers in the street.
The fireworks had been building towards a crescendo all day. In the early part of the day the reports were sporadic and tentative. By mid-afternoon they were reliably steady and increased hourly as the night progressed. It was not a coordinated effort; it was thousands of households independently and simultaneously asserting their right to celebrate in the loudest, most frenetic manner possible. At midnight, the culmination of the evening, the cacophony was majestic. From every side, on all the streets and walkways in the barrio, from over the garden walls fireworks exploded with abandon; the skyline a strobe, pulsating, white glow. The occasional colored skyrocket only accentuated the bright flash of gunpowder with its resounding report. The angels would know that Granada was joyously paying homage to the Christ child.
We awakened on Christmas morning to a neighborhood disturbed only intermittently by the occasional sound of fireworks. When we left our home at mid-morning Christmas day, the city was quiet for Christmas is a day to be with the family. The only evidence of the assault on the senses that had transpired only hours before were the neat piles of paper residue left behind by the street sweepers to be hauled away later that morning. The city, its energy spent, had returned to normalcy.
By Richard and Anita, December, 2013