Yes, it that time again; Semana Santa, Holy Week, in which seemingly all the Central Valley descends on the two coasts of the country. The hotels are full, bars and restaurants are over flowing with customers, and we are staying in for the week. Yesterday there was a steady stream of traffic in front of our house. Where years ago a car might pass once a day, now there is a four-wheeled river.
If you pave it, they will come. I ventured out for some supplies this morning but made sure I did it before seven in the morning, long before the revelers got up to ease their aching heads from the night before.
Of course all this is a boon for business, and it is happening in spite of a US Embassy warning issued just last week advising North Americans to avoid the Caribbean due to recent crime spree. There have been a string of violent hotel invasions over the past several months as well as a drug bust in Manzanillo on March 12.
In that incident a high-speed panga with four (FOUR) 300 horse motors—that’s 1200 horsepower, folks, and a whole lot of speed—carrying about two tons of cocaine was run aground in Manzanillo by the Coast Guard. Four men fled into the jungle and faded into the local population. The white stuff was captured but not the men. But all that said, the Pacific side of the country fares no better; there were several similar drug busts on the Pacific in the past few months. All in all Costa Rica has captured about 20 tons of cocaine this year alone… on both coasts, all headed north to a guaranteed market.
It has always been the assumption of the people on the Caribe that Pacific investors and hotel cartels put out bad publicity about the Caribbean around the holidays. That might have been true in the past, but this time the Caribe has things it needs to address. And I see the government and the police have formulated a plan to fight crime. The idea is to allow people a toll free number (1176) to call and anonymously report crime or suspicious activities. I hope it works.
The only issue I see is that people here are afraid to report because they do not trust their police or the government and they fear retaliation from the criminals themselves. Healthy concerns.
For now, though, it’s nice to see the cars full of people from San Jose coming to the Caribbean to celebrate Easter, and I hope they have a good time. (And as always I hope they clean up their trash when they go.) The small inconvenience to me is slight in comparison to the success of businesses here. May they prosper and give legitimate employment to all the young people who need work to live a life without crime.
Happy Easter. Feliz Santo Domingo. Have a good time, everyone. Play safely and even if it means my house shakes with the bass beat of a local bar, so be it.
On a side note: I still do not understand fireworks on Good Friday, the day it is believed that Christ was crucified, but I’m Buddhist not a Catholic. Just saying.