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El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)

Vehicles are parked on both sides of the street as far as I can see. I find a clearing and pull off onto the side of the road to park the truck.

Two young girls walk past hand in hand with their grandma. Each carries a bouquet of bright red flowers. 

As I approach the cemetery I hear music in the distance. Suddenly I’m covered head to toe in goosebumps.

It’s November 1st and hundreds of people are gathered in the cemetery to celebrate El Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead).

Families have spent the last couple of days cleaning up and decorating the grave sites of their loved ones. They have come together today to honor and celebrate the lives of friends and family members that have passed.

Aside from the tombstones the scene before me mirrors that of a busy park on a sunny Sunday – anywhere in North America. 

Refreshments of all kinds including ice cream, cotton candy and snow cones are available for purchase. Typical Nicaraguan dishes such as vigaron and barbecued chicken are also available. Some families have come prepared toting their own picnic.

Children are playing quietly. Long time neighbors and family friends are enjoying the day together. They share stories of their lost loved ones. Some tales invoke a tear, but most bring laughter, or at least a smile.

A lone chicken crosses my path and a couple of children run by.

I look around taking in this celebration with awe and amazement and I think to myself, “Why don’t we do this in Canada?”

Semana Santa 2013: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

The place we now call home – San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – just so happens to be one of the most popular places for Nicaraguan youth to party during Semana Santa. 

Rooms (with only cushions on the floor for sleeping) rent for up to $75 USD a night.  Vendors line the streets. There is no shortage of cheap beer, rum, knock off sunglasses or inflatable toys.

One of the local restaurants has set up a temporary Tip Top chicken franchise. Morning, noon and night we see Nicaraguan men passed out on the sidewalks and streets.  

Girls in booty shorts and bikini tops represent Heineken, Victoria Frost, Flor de Cana, Tona, Claro and Movistar.

As we sit in the Heineken tent and sip 30 cord ($1.21 USD) green frosties a group of special forces police – clad in black -march together in a troop of six. Rifles are strapped to their backs and they carry hand guns in holsters on their hips.

Convoys of Nicaraguan families have set up camp on the beach. The bay has become a place to bathe and use the toilet.  Avenida del Mar reeks of urine. Beach parties rage on until the wee hours of the morning. The techno beats can be heard all way to our house, which is more than three blocks away.

This is San Juan del Sur during Semana Santa! 

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