San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, has two distinct seasons.
They are totally different than the seasons in the more northern latitudes of North America and Europe which experience relatively cold Winters, mild Autumns, hot Summers and mild Springs.
Here, in Central America we have two seasons: Dry Season and Rainy Season. Let me elaborate…
Dry Season coincides roughly with the northern latitudes’ Winter, roughly beginning in mid November and ending in early to mid May. The local Nicaraguans call it their Summer, despite the fact that we are located in the Northern Hemisphere.
Dry. Dry Season is dry, in that it is unusual to get any rain at all for the entire almost 6 month period.
Dusty. Because there is no rain to keep the ground moist and to settle airborne particulates to the ground, it is dusty. The roads are largely dirt. And the cars and trucks and motorcycles and even bicycles and people’s feet and dog’s paws kick the dirt up. We get tons of pollens because we live in a jungle. And the trade winds bring dust over from the Saharan Desert.
Brown and Barren. A lot of the trees drop their leaves. So the landscape looks brown and barren.
Windy. The wind picks up and blows all season long. Blowing the sand, blowing the waves, blowing the dirt, blowing the dust. Blowing the smoke from home kitchens burning wood, and trash piles.
The plus side of Dry Season: Every day is a bright sunny day. The wind, if not too strong, is refreshing. The temperatures cool a bit, almost but not quite making you think of putting something on over your tank top and shorts, or of letting your hair drop out of your ponytail and fully onto your back. The absence of leaves makes it easier to spot birds and monkeys and iguanas. You don’t have to worry about your house flooding or molding. And it’s official tourist season (okay, this can be a plus and a minus) when the town fills up primarily with cold-adverse Canadians, Americans and Europeans. And during Dry Season, my favorite plant, the Bougainvillea, goes brilliantly into bloom.
I first visited Nicaragua and fell in love with it during dry season.
But I didn’t even know what love was until I experienced Rainy Season.
Rainy Season begins in early May with rain, lots of rain, and ends typically in mid November after a typically especially rainy October. The local Nicaraguans call it their Winter.
Wet. Rainy season brings rain, of course, but there are wetter periods than others. During July and August there’s a dryer spell, where you could even forget that it’s rainy season at all, except for how lush the jungle is. But when it’s full on raining, the roads turn into rushing river, the town floods, homes flood, and the real river carries trees and debris into the bay and deposited the slurry on the beach.
Lush. Within a week of the first rains in early May the trees go into overdrive producing leaves, glorious leaves. The landscape goes from brown to green and from barren to lush seemingly overnight.
Mud and Puddles. The rains turn the dirt roads and paths to mud and puddles. There’s a lot of clay in the dirt here, so it turns slick as snot. There’s earth creep and slumps. There are homes in my neighborhood whose yards remain super saturated during the rainiest periods.
Mold. With wet comes mold. And mold spores can cause respiratory issues. Mold also turns white concrete walls, inside and out, into stripes of black and white. Fortunately they make a really good anti-mold paint, which although expensive can keep the mold away.
Hidden Wildlife and Overgrown Trails. The jungle gets so full that it’s hard to spot the birds and monkeys in the trees. Trails, unless they’ve been kept up by constant clearing, become immediately overgrown, hiding snakes and ticks, and covering you in burrs.
The plus side of Rainy Season: It’s essential for this lush, tropical jungle paradise we call home. IT’S BEAUTIFUL. The lightening storms out over the sea. The sound of hard rain on metal roofs. The frogs. The rainbows. The green, green, green, green, green. Did I mention that it’s BEAUTIFUL? Oh, and there are less tourists, so it feels more homey. The people that are here are the people that are committed to being here year round, locals and expats alike. There’s something special to be said about that.
And … because I have a soft spot for “Before and After” Photos, here’s my own Dry Season/ Rainy Season rendition, with photos taken from the exact same location.