Semana Santa: chaos, fun, incredible noise

During the madhouse of Holy Week, Mexico goes collectively nuts

I started this column because I wanted to chronicle my almost suicidal journey through the vagaries of buying a condo here in Puerto Vallarta. It was only through good luck and the kindness of strangers that I am still standing, albeit slightly more stooped than I once was.


Many people say they cannot believe what I went through, and some have unkindly suggested that I might have let my imagination run away with me. Let me assure you that everything I wrote about happened, although it was recounted with a patina of amusement.

In fact, people on our street who witnessed my pain often ask me why I have not written about the many other things that took place. I simply reply that we would be entering the world of the super-surreal if I foisted all that happened on to my loyal readers.

However, in spite of biblical tests of patience and endurance, my wife and I count ourselves lucky to live where we do. On the other hand if you have never read me before, then I invite you to go to my web site,, where all my previous columns as well as my other scribbles appear.

This column deals not only with the ongoing delights of owning a condo in Mexico but also life in Puerto Vallarta through my eyes.

We are now past the madhouse of Semana Santa, Holy Week, where Mexico goes collectively nuts. It is the time of year when many Mexicans make an exodus to the seaside, with Puerto Vallarta high on the list of places to go.

The combination of religious and riotous activities creates ecclesiastic chaos, fun and incredible noise. Church bells ringing for hidden reasons and trucks with speakers blasting music at mind-melting volume are an integral part of the festivities.


In the El Centro district where we live, the week starts with a religious ceremony on Good Friday, including a priest following someone playing Jesus who is seemingly being beaten by two Roman soldiers with cat-o-nine-tails.

Sometimes but rarely, the soldiers get carried away by the crowds of spectators and lay into the Christ figure a little too realistically. This results in a look of outrage from the brutalized actor, who might well be thumb-dialling his agent to complain.

After much apologizing from the enthusiastic Romans, the procession continues but with Jesus still eyeing the legionnaires with a high degree of suspicion.

Thankfully nothing untoward happened this year.

The priest has a mic from which he spreads his blessing upon our barrio, with the speakers for his sound system being carried by one of the many followers. It is quite a spectacle as the group winds through the streets and back down the hill to the church towards the inevitable crucifixion.

Meanwhile, pickup trucks with massive speakers have been setting up for late afternoon parties that seem to gain strength around midnight. These always redefine the point at which a human eardrum experiences a noise level that becomes intolerable.

The fact that children can sleep through these assaults upon the inner ear deserves study, as it is a mystery to those of us who stuff socks into our ears.

Mexicans arrive in our town in such numbers as to make us snow birds irrelevant, which is as it should be, for it is their holiday and they can do as they wish. As for my wife and me, we are left shouting at each other for a week or so after Semana Santa is over or at least till the sound level is reduced to the former one.

That is the level at which we just have to talk over the neurotic barking of dogs and the puffed-up roosters, which is the norm. Before I arrived in Mexico I did not honestly know what noise could be.

Happy holiday to our Mexican neighbors.

Christopher Dalton has produced multitudes of commercials as well as 14 movies in Canada and the U.S. He was expelled from every institute of higher learning, forcing him hide out in advertising and movies until popping up in Puerto Vallarta with his long-suffering wife Michelle. Visit his web site

© Christopher Dalton 2016

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  • Cm

    Yes, They do love their noise! As a long time resident of Mazatlan I can assure you the Puerto Vallarta is actually quite tranquil in comparison when it comes to comparing the noise levels of Semana Santa and Semana de las Moros!