We experienced our first Semana Santa in Mexico.
One word … CRAZY!
I woke up at 6:00 am on Easter morning to booming techno music. Curious, I put on my bathrobe and peeked outside. Through the window of the rental next door, I could see a room filled with young Mexican adults, dancing and drinking to the music. It seriously sounded like I was inside a raging discoteca (Mexican disco club)! The music was sooo loud and had been going since 2:00 am! Thankfully, it was the last night of Semana Santa. I was definitely looking forward to a peaceful Monday.
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is the week leading up to Easter, when the resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated. Since Mexico is 90% Catholic (according to INEGI), Holy Week is a very important holiday. Officially, Semana Santa is the week before Easter. But, most students and some employees get a two-week break, so the week before Easter as well as the following week comprise the Semana Santa holiday. (Think: Spring Break!) Apparently, there are various kinds of religious observances of Semana Santa throughout all of Mexico – processions and passion plays (dramas re-enacting the events leading up to Jesus’ death).
Since it is spring break, beach communities get a lot of tourists. Our sleepy little town of 5,000-6,000 swells up to over 100,000 during the peak of Semana Santa, mostly with young Mexican adults ready to party through the night! Here in San Carlos, people start arriving on Wednesday, with Saturday being the biggest party night. By Monday morning, everyone is gone and only the trash remains. Sadly, trash is strewn all over the city – on the streets, in yards, and on the beaches.
Mexicans think of all sorts of ways to make money during this time. There were mobile ice cream carts, tons of food stands everywhere (everything from toasted cricket tostadas to tacos to hot dogs), trinket stands (sombreros, wood carvings, beaded jewelry), even portable toilets were set up charging 5-7 pesos for each use (40-60 cents)!
We did enjoy walking down Main Street on Friday night. The Oaxacan food stand was our favorite. They had homemade ice cream in so many yummy flavors! But we were thankful to be able to retreat to our boat in the bay to get some much needed sleep away from all the noise on Thursday and Friday nights.