Semana Santa 2014: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Beach towns like San Juan del Sur celebrate the deeply religious holiday of Semana Santa with something resembling Spring Break in Cancun. 

There is loud music, dancing and libations the entire length of beach. All major beer, rum and cell phone companies are represented by young ladies wearing company colors. 

Semana Santa 2014: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– In deference to the perpetual heat of San Juan del Sur the corporate clothing is designed and sized with cool comfort in mind.

It’s a festive atmosphere, and not one meant just for the young party crowd.

Families take this time to get out of the city and have some fun. San Juan del Sur transforms into a mini amusement park of sorts complete with a carnival, beach and street vendors. 

Contrary to North America festival conventions food and drink prices actually drop during this celebration. Good eats and cold beverages are plentiful and much less expensive than any other time of the year.

Semana Santa 2014: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– It’s hard to beat $1 rum cocktails, 60¢ beer and 3 Heineken for $4.

The same can’t be said for accommodations. Places to sleep are in short supply and demand makes for higher prices. Many locals rent rooms in their homes to make some extra cash which helps alleviate the bed shortage.

Semana Santa 2014: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Mattresses and pillows for sale

This particular Semana Santa in San Juan del Sur has been much different than the last.

We’ve heard speculation that many Managuans stayed home tending to property due to the earthquake red alert status that is currently menacing our capital city. We may never know the reasons for the low attendance numbers, but at a guess I’d say 50% stayed home.

The shame is that this year San Juan seemed ready for the influx of tourism. There were dozens of extra tents set up on the beach for shade, too many portable toilets to count (emptied daily), teams of people combing the streets and beach for garbage, a plethora of vendors and hundreds of police. Temporary parking was even set up in town and on the edge of town.

Elisha and I went out during the day and night to join in the festivities. There was an abundance of drinking and dancing on the street, in the temporary event bars, as well as all of the usual hangouts. Everyone was smiling, laughing and jumping to the beat.

Semana Santa 2014: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Things were just getting warmed up Wednesday afternoon at the Flor de Caña stage.

Semana Santa 2014: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

There were a few over indulgers taking “naps”, but nothing compared to US Spring Break standards. We didn’t see any signs of drunk aggression or any real illegal activities.

What we did see was Nicaraguan families enjoying a much needed and deserved vacation at the beach. There were also legions of hard working Nicas running concession stands.

Semana Santa 2014: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Semana Santa 2014: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Not a bad place to sell your products and spend the night.

During my morning run I saw people working away setting up for sales. They were still hard at it when Elisha and I headed home for the night after enjoying the evening festivities. Often their children were sleeping on mattresses or hammocks after a long day in the sun.

Together Elisha and I drank cheap Heineken, enjoyed great live music and ate Tip Top Chicken twice.

Semana Santa 2014: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– We found good service, great music and value priced beer in the Heineken tent.

I rode the rides AND jumped off the Claro tower.

Semana Santa 2014: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– My jump took place at night and therefore couldn’t be photographed…but you get the idea.

Hopefully next year the crowds will be back, our town will be just as prepared and more of our expat community will stick around to enjoy Semana Santa in San Juan with us.

(Click on any thumbnail to view larger sized images)

Posted on April 20, 2014, in People & Culture, Sights & Activities and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I was Skyping with my Spanish teacher in San Juan Del Sur earlier today and she told me that a lot of people stayed away from the coast because of tsunami fears. It looks like whoever showed up had a great time, though. Here in California we didn’t even get a day off, let alone a long weekend!

  2. Emeline LeBlanc

    Thanks for sharing activity in your community.

  3. Charlotte Lynch

    Looks like it was a real blast!!

  4. Love this post, nice work! Makes me miss Nicaragua.

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