By: Antonella Saravia
Beach-driven soul Maria Delgado lives between Managua & SJDS. A visual artist with a studio in Playa Maderas where I started to work a few months ago. Her art and creative services have been featured in Granada, San Juan Del Sur, as well as the capital, Managua. A local host to all the expats, Maria loves to meet all the interesting people who visit Nicaragua and spread the word on its talented people.
CN: You’ve always frequented the beach. What’s the contrast of the before and after of the local beaches in Nicaragua in recent years?
MD: I’ve been frequenting SJDS since I was a little kid. Probably since I was 8 years old or before. It impresses me how many new things we have now. Nice restaurants, cool shops, lots of hostels, craft beer! Looking back there were only a few vacation houses that existed. Before, it was peaceful and empty. Now I see the streets full of people from every corner of the world. You can get to know a country by getting to know a person from it. It’s great to be here and have the opportunity to meet so many people without having to travel to another country.
CN: What is the vibe on the beach?
MD: SJDS is full of good vibes. Everyone is in a good mood, I’ve observed that people from different businesses help each other, even though they may be competing. Everyone is chill, minding their own business and having a great time. There’s always something to do in this town, you’ll never get bored. You’ll always have fun or chill, whichever one you choose.
CN: It feels like art is very much a part of this transformation. Is this accurate?
MD: Art is involved in the majority of the places here. Whether it’s a cool mural or interesting piece of art, everyone has something. We have a events like local ‘Art Night’ that have really helped to turn SJDS into an “art town.”
CN: You sound involved and invested in this creative movement. Tell me a little about your work.
MD: I have gotten more involved little by little. I was working as a publicist in an advertising agency in Managua. I studied advertising but since I was a kid have wanted to be an artist, I kind of learned what I do by myself, because I’ve always been curious about everything that has to do with art.
I was traveling often to SJDS and it occurred to me that I could begin doing some freelance work. People buy art here and appreciate it. It inspired me to put some of my work out there. I’ve done work for bars, hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. And it has been an amazing experience. It’s what I do now. When I travel, the first thing I do is visit museums and art galleries. It’s what makes me happy. I like to do illustration, digital, and analogue collage. I am always learning.
CN: The vibe does match the international crowd roaming the streets. It’s quite contagious. What can you tell us about the tourism in the area?
MD: The international crowd is a curious one and explores Nicaragua. Many of them as surfers are looking for the perfect wave, which is why you see that they all gravitate toward the beaches. They like good food, and we have great food! One of the favorite Nicaraguan dishes is the gallopinto.
San Juan has some great spots to eat out. A new favorite San Juan del Sur Cervecería, where you can have a great meal and a cold craft beer.
CN: I’ve been. It’s definitely a new favorite and it does give Nicaraguans a cool sense of where San Juan del Sur is headed. From a behind the scenes perspective, what can we expect from the next 5 years?
MD: We’ll, SJDS even has a mini movie theatre now so I’m expecting a lot of new creative things in the near future. In the next few years, there will be more art in the streets. They’ll be more restaurants, hotels. More tourism. Hopefully, it will not be as crowded as other countries and it’ll stay slightly underground but still full of wonderful people from every corner of the world as it is now.
CN: That sounds exciting! What can locals and tourists expect in the next few months?
MD: We’re currently preparing for the 4th edition Art Night San Juan Del Sur. It’s art for sale, live music, food and drinks. We get a great crowd so we’re expecting to do this every 3 months or so. I’ve been thinking of opening my own place soon. I’m really into vintage clothes as well. I’m working on a pop-up shop in San Juan Del Sur, so there really is a lot to look forward in the next few months alone.