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Día de San Juan Bautista: La Fiesta Patronales

We arrived in San Juan del Sur with a bang, literally. Fireworks were being set off all over town with thunderous booms from early in the morning to late into the night. We spent our first 24 hours trying to figure out what on earth was going on in this seemingly sleepy seaside town, or if this was just normal; it wasn’t until after we followed a parade featuring a hewn tree trunk through the streets of San Juan del Sur that we got our answer: the birthday of St. John, the patron saint of San Juan del Sur. The weekend marked the start of festivities in the lead up to the saint’s birthday. It included everything from potato sack races to celebrations of the saint’s baptism of Jesus to firework-laced ‘bull’ icons racing through the crowd. The celebrations continued with each day seemingly getting larger as more and more businesses around town closed down for the celebration and the streets got more and more crowded. We were fortunate to get to see this celebration first hand, despite being startled out of bed at all hours of the night by fireworks and church bells.

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The whole community came out for the celebration. There were bouncy castles for children, concert stages setup through the town square constantly blasting popular local dance music. This was clearly the community event of the year. Residents set up chairs all over the church plaza and talked, ate, laughed, and drank; and my did they drink. Flor de Caña sponsored the entire event! The square was packed from late morning till early morning (the last firework show of the night went off at 4:30 in the morning). Everyone was incredibly friendly and inviting and it almost made us feel as if we were part of the community. It makes you realize how in different parts of the world, patron saint’s are still very much a large part of the community and the celebration brings people together.

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Bull efficacies chasing the crowd with fireworks.

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May pole celebration in front of the Catholic Church in San Juan del Sur.

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Jesus being paraded through the crowd in celebration of John the Baptist.
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The sunset from our hostel above the church where all of the celebrations were.

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