San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Around San Juan

Semana Santa is here! The approach of Easter Week is always easy to tell because all over town people are spiffing up properties, opening small casitas and cafetines and posting signs reading “Habitaciones para Alquilar” (rooms to rent).

Economically, it seems things are picking up a bit – at least in San Juan del Sur. This has also been the season of volunteers.

I just returned from Chinandega with a small group starting a library at a church in Ameya. And all the hotels in that northern city were full!

There was a huge group of International Rotary – Friends of Nicaragua there working on several projects.

Both Simmons College library science program and LaSalle Collegein Boston Learning Abroad programs have been in San Juan with the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Movil’s work, helping and learning as well.

The A. Jean Brugger Foundation sponsored the first event to announce and launch their new Municipal Little League team with a softball doubleheader featuring U.S. Ambassador Robert Callahan’s softball team from the Embassy in Managua. And recently the EU Ambassador to Central America, Mendel Goldstein, visited SJDS with a group of other foreign dignitaries and toured projects they have helped sponsor. The visiting delegation was hosted by Mayor Jorge Sánchez.

Most notable to me as this Semana Santa weekend rolls towards us is the occasional sightings of a recently endangered species: the “real estate investor” tourist appears to be making a comeback.

For the first time in a long while guests at my hotel, Villa Isabell, are telling me that they are here in San Juan del Sur “looking for real estate” and planning to invest here. That might be another good sign of recovery.

Happy Semana Santa, and look for my  reports after the holidays! Here in San Juan, it seems like two very different forms of activities go on every year simultaneously – of the religious and not so-religious varieties.

The devout observe religious traditions such as the Via Cruz or The Way of the Cross, which moves slowly and somberly through town every Friday from now through Easter. The processions stop in front of various homes, stores and restaurants for prayer. Bands and many Catholic faithful participate in the processions each evening.

The bigge st ones are held on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, when a pallet carrying a coffin and replica of the Body of Jesus moves solemnly throughout town. This particular holiday weekend is also celebrated in San Juan by nearly every Nicaraguan – it would seem – who can get here. People from all walks of life and all parts of the country come to the beach with their families and friends. There’s lots of partying, drinking and dining.

Discos from Managua arrive by Wednesday, and that’s when the crazier fun begins.

The roads near and on the beach are blocked off to all but foot traffic by Wednesday and both the fire department and Red Cross set up shop on the beach to deal with injuries and collapses.

Many hotels are expecting record crowds this year and reservations are pouring in. I have not heard yet if last year’s ordinance against fireworks and bombas will be in effect due to the dry conditions, but one can only hope!

There are plans again to keep the majority of the busses outside of the town limits in parking areas. This practice started last year and makes a big difference in the ease of traffic and movement through town. Plans to feed and house the extra support people (firemen and police) are also underway.

–Jane Mirandette


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