Drive 6.6km south of San Juan del Sur and then through a jungle of howler monkeys over multiple dried river crossings and you eventually arrive at a 3km-long gorgeous sandy white beach producing enough variety of right and left breaks to satisfy the soul of any surfer. Mostly restricted until about two years ago, Playa Hermosa has opened its gates for locals and tourists of all ages and is a perfectly positioned beachfront rock n’ roll paradise. This was the backdrop for the 5th annual Pitaya Festival.
During the full moon next March, the community of El Carizal will transform into Nicaragua’s premier music and sustainability festival with a renewed level of commitment to community development, recycling initiatives, and art, in addition to local and international musical talent. The next Pitaya Fest is set for March 15, 2014.
Last year’s festival featured a guest appearance from the Costa Rican sensation Debi Nova, a Grammy artist with the #1 dance hit single ‘Drummer Boy’. Pantalones Calientos came all the way from Mexico to funktify the festival with a Jazz sound never before heard in the region. Nicaragua’s beloved Milly Majuc got the crowd jumping to their unique ska beats and rock grooves. And as the full moon rose, El Tercer Ojo and Claro presented the festival headliner, Run Dun Crew (Bluefields Sound System) bringing their good vibes, passionate lyrics and Afro Caribbean reggae beats to the Pacific. Costa Rica’s Ojo de Buey followed and took us through midnight with their afro-¬caribbean-latin rock’n’roll grooves and good luck charms. 9mm DJs (feat. DJ Johnny G) shut the festival down in the early morning hours.
The best part about it all is that the Pitaya Festival is a party that you can truly feel good about. Every beer you buy and all proceeds from the festival go toward the Casa Llanta Fund. The Casa Llanta Fund helped fund the construction of the local pre-school and community kitchen in El Carizal and initiated the successful women’s co-op locally known as Condimentos del Carizal. It hosts weekly English Classes and this year provided scholarships for 7 students in the community to go to high school and university for a full calendar year in 2012, a program to be continued in 2013-2014 with funds from anticipated festival proceeds. The Fund also covers school bus transportation costs and teacher salary of the San Juan del Sur chapter of Los Pipitos, the center for children and adults with disabilities. The Casa Llanta Fund has a strategic partnership with Comunidad Connect who plays an integral part in most of the education and recycling initiatives.
The Pitaya Festival is made possible each year through the support of volunteers and sponsors. Frozen pitaya drinks are made available during the festival season thanks to donations from PitayaPlus.
Stay tuned for more announcements on next year’s performing artists as the date approaches. For more detailed information on the performing artists, concert schedule, shuttles and volunteering, please visit the Pitaya Fest Facebook page.