By Aileen Ly
International travel? Get to travel to and stay on a volcanic island in the middle of a lake? Doing a service? How could I pass this opportunity up? I couldn’t! Crooked Trails’ November trip to Nicaragua reminds me very much of my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Vanuatu: sunny weather, sandy beaches, friendly people, learning the stories of the villagers, helping complete community projects, and of course, living on a volcanic island! I will never forget the experiences of my service because I made a difference, may it have been only one person or several hundred people.
One of the things about this trip that got me the most excited was the chance to experience and see the Fiesta de San Diego in Altagracia. What I remembered the most about my Peace Corps service was the traditional celebrations (weddings, deaths, births, Christmas, Independence Day, etc) that I got invited to and got to see firsthand. The traditional dances, wide variety of food, sense of community, and celebrations always brought everyone together from near and far and gave me a glimpse of the way they really lived. The Fiesta de San Diego celebrations occur every November 12-18. The weeklong celebrations commemorate the pilgrimage and death of Altagracia’s patron saint, San Diego. During the week, the people of Altagracia and Ometepe gather and dance the Baile de Zompopo (dance of the leaf cutter ants) at night and a statue of San Diego is carried around the island as a symbolic reenactment of his pilgrimage. At the end of the week, the statue of San Diego is returned to the Catholic church in Altagracia until the next year.
You can have the opportunity to see and experience the Fiesta de San Diego for yourself this November and make a difference for hundreds of people by signing up to join Crooked Trails’ inaugural trip to Nicaragua to help register locals for their birth certificates. Birth certificates are easy to obtain; it’s just a matter of getting to a local governmental office and registering. But for many locals on Ometepe Island, they live remotely without access to transportation. That’s where we come in! We visit the remote villages of Ometepe with a local government official and get as many people registered as possible. Along the way, we’ll story with the villagers, relax at the beach, experience the celebrations of the Fiesta de San Diego, climb a volcano, and make a difference.
Take part in this amazing cultural experience! We’re accepting applications NOW for the November Nicaragua travel program. Visit our website to learn more and apply.
Festival procession by H Dragon
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