A Portrait of San Sombrèro
Many visiting photographers agree that the best time to capture San Sombrèro’s beauty is early morning; not only is the light good, they are less likely to have their camera stolen.
How does one begin to sum up a country like San Sombrèro? ‘Beguiling’? ‘Vibrant’? ‘A magical mix of modern-day charm and old world epidemics’? Of course, it is all these things – and more – making this sun-drenched republic one of the most exciting travel destinations in all of Central America. Whilst small, this action-and-attraction-packed country draws thousands of visitors each year, lured by its tropical charms, exotic lifestyle and lack of extradition treaties with the Western world.
SO MUCH TO DO
From the frenetic nightlife of its capital, Cucaracha City, to the guaranteed solitude of a west coast beach during sea-snake season, there’s simply so much to see and do in this exotic, tropical jewel.
More than anything else, San Sombrèro is a land of fascinating contradictions, where Catholic churches permit animal sacrifices, and school canteens sell rum. Its people, too, are an intriguing mix, making it little wonder that San Sombrèro boasts the only Nobel Prize winner to ever be accused of war crimes.
Straddling the azure waters of the Caribbean and Pacific, San Sombrèro’s first foreign visitor was Jorge Paradoure, Spain’s most short-sighted explorer who confidently identified the land mass as China before stepping ashore and planting a Spanish flag into his own foot (for more, see History section). The country was then colonised and the influence of Spain on the San Sombrèran people remains strong to this day, in their language, cuisine and fundamental inability to be anywhere on time.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Despite its relatively small size, San Sombrèro offers so many options. Its capital is home to one of the world’s largest Latin music festivals, and organisers boast that each year almost ten thousand people turn up for the event, partly making up for the fifty odd thousand who routinely flee the city.
Then there’s historic centres, such as the colonial settlement of Fumarolè, home to the magnificently preserved Presidential Palace where, on weekends, visitors might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of brightly dressed State Guards driving military vehicles round the parade grounds while letting off firearms; this is not an official display – they’re generally just drunk.
San Sombrèro’s marching bands often play in public parks to entertain visitors and frighten off unwanted fruit bats.
Further afield in the mountain hamlet of Cohlera you’ll find the stately cathedral of San Pedro, noted for its massive organ, as was he.
And for those wanting to simply relax, head for the dazzling off-white sands of resort cities such as Playa Miguel, where the adventurous traveller can catch a wave, a fish, a hot band and dengue fever all in one day.
Of course, no introduction to San Sombrèro would be complete without reference to the country’s passion for song and dance. The traditional music of San Sombrèro is considered to be as infectious as many of the nation’s water-borne diseases and, as for dancing, it doesn’t get much hotter than the bababumba, the national dance of San Sombrèro. Similar to a rumba, the bababumba enacts a breezy battle between a man and a woman who tries to parry his insistent advances. Truth be told, this dance is a thinly disguised simulation of the sexual act and will generally end in a passionate embrace followed, in many cases, by pregnancy.
But more than anything else, it is the people of San Sombrèro who many regard as the ‘main’ attraction, and first-time visitors are invariable struck by the natural beauty of its citizens. This country where ugliness (or ‘aranche’) is officially classified as a disability and even prisoners have solarium rights. The San Sombreran women, in particular, proudly flaunt their looks and sexuality, with baby girls often learning to shimmy before they can walk. And, despite moves to ban the practice, female soldiers serving in San Sombreran regiments frequently disobey orders by re-designing their combat uniforms to create a bare midriff.
Female members of San Sombrèro’s armed forces model their latest camouflage uniforms.