Beach, processions and sawdust carpets are the highlights of Easter Week in the Nicaraguan city of Leon. A week focus on religion and party. How these two opposite things come together? I think is the combination of young people, tourist and devote people celebrating the same holiday with different perspectives. But no matter in which group you are (even if you are in more than one), it is a week to be on the streets and live the Nicaraguan culture. For one week it is the time for Nicaraguans to leave everything behind, fill a pickup truck with more than twenty people and go to the beach of Las Peñitas or Poneloya. The beach is the perfect spot to enjoy these days off and get out of the city. Even the Red Cross has a special plan for the week. More than 100 volunteers watch the beach constantly because this is the week when more accidents happen in the whole year.
The buses are overcrowded and finish really early. So if you want to spend the whole day in the ocean and watch the sunset, the right way to do it is hitchhiking! It is the best time to put your thumb up and stop some cars. Don’t worry! There are plenty of trucks, cars and even trollies that would stop for some tourist.
However, the real Easter week happens in the city, every day you will cross several processions with music, saints followed by crosses and Jesus statues. Asking locals are the best way to know what is going on (also a fun one!), they love to talk about their traditions and are the best source of knowledge.
You will notice that people have different costumes for each procession. Carrying status is exhausting, but locals do it with a lot of pride. If you are lucky, you will see the procession of a cowboy Jesus on a donkey (believe me, you don’t want to miss it!).
Another tradition from Leon is their sawdust carpets, every day in different parts of the city. People start really early in the morning and spend all day under the sun building these beautiful carpets with religious meanings.
They dye the sawdust for creating elaborates pictures on the floor. The best ones are on Sutiava neighborhood and happen between 10 am and 6 pm. I will recommend going around 4pm, this is the perfect time to see some colorful carpets done and still seeing some Nicaraguans working hard on them.
Holy week in Leon is a time to get out and enjoy the streets. It doesn’t matter if you are religious or not, you can admire the work and effort of the local people who celebrate this party, you will enjoy the cultural differences and experience events that can only happen that week, be ready for everything!