Every year during Easter Week, in addition to religious activities, going to the beach tops the list of ways to celebrate. This year, as usual, the beaches from Carrillo and Samara to Guiones and Pelada were filled with visitors, but with some notable differences.
One difference was that the Municipality of Nicoya decided not to enforce the traditional prohibition on the sale of alcohol, an option given under the new liquor law passed in 2012. Nicoya was one of six cantons to decide not to go dry, and the result was… less drunkenness.
Attilio Cecchetelli, owner of Hotel Samara Beach, noted that although the hotel was full as normal, this year it was more peaceful with less alcohol and noise. Jorge Luis Jimenez Gonzalez, Samara district chief for the Public Force, explained the seeming contradiction, noting that when people know the dry law will go into force, they tend to stock up on alcohol. “They buy in excess, they drink in excess,” he said.
On the other hand, this year, without the dry law people could buy only what they need at the time. As a result, he said that this year there were fewer problems with alcohol and drunkenness than in previous years. In addition, he said other crimes also stayed at normal levels, with no notable increase in spite of the increase in people in town. There were the normal loss of documents or thefts due to carelessness —people leaving their stuff on the beach to go swim and coming back to find it gone—but he didn’t receive reports of thefts from vehicles or lodgings.
Police and Red Cross Reinforcements
In anticipation of the crowds, both Samara and Nosara made arrangements for extra support. Carlos Villalobos Espinoza, president of the Nosara Red Cross committee, said they had 11 extra people from San Jose and Heredia on duty during Holy Week, including three lifeguards. They set up a post in Pelada Beach, and also rotated presence at Garza and Guiones, as well as the mouth of the Nosara River.
Overall, he reported that they had no major incidents beyond the normal local transports to the hospital, small injuries and one small car accident. The Tourist Police in Nosara also counted on two additional motorized officers and two on foot patrol during the week, brought from Flamingo and San Jose. Likewise, Israel Mayorga, Tourist Police shift chief, said the week was very calm, with no home thefts and just one vehicle theft reported.
In Samara, the Chamber of Tourism (CASATUR) coordinated efforts to transport 20 extra police officers from Nicoya from Tuesday to Saturday during the week. Marco Carmona, CASATUR president, said that all of the hotels ended up chipping in to cover the cost of transportation. In addition, a paramedic, an assistant and a mobile unit from the Red Cross were stationed in Samara for the entire week and ten students from the high school in El Torito helped CASATUR to pass out informational bags.
The chamber also arranged for extra garbage and recycling collection. Carmona estimated that hotels were about 90% full this year. “It definitely wasn’t as busy as last year, but it was still definitely busy,” reported Chris Cottes of the Samara-Carrillo Info Center. “There were still lots of people without reservations and we had trouble finding them space but we did.”