by Claire Ricci
In my twenties I wandered. I could travel for weeks sometimes months at a time. Each new place unfolded like a flower as I meandered through backroads, into new friendships, and into a clearer sense of myself. As I got older I no longer had that kind of time. Travel was shorter, and as it shortened it seemed to have less depth.
When I stumbled upon Crooked Trails my first thought was, “What a great idea!” A non-profit travel organization that traveled only to communities where they’d been invited, and engaged only in community development projects chosen by the people of that community. Trips were led by people who’d fallen in love with communities around the world and wanted to share them. Wow.
This was travel I craved. Travel that goes beyond seeing the sites of a country, and draws you toward its people and spirit. Travel with meaning and purpose where cultures are shared, connections valued, and learning comes in a hundred unanticipated ways. Travel that feels more like traveling with a friend, than any kind of organized excursion. I wanted this.
Enter Ometepe Island, often called Nicaragua’s candidate for the the Eighth Wonder of the World. Formed by two volcanoes it sits in the middle of Central America’s largest fresh water lake. Remote and beautiful it is a world away. Populated by parrots, howler monkeys, waterfalls, beaches and gracious hard working people.
Crooked Trails is heading there this November with a special mission.
Imagine a woman in the rural town of La Palma on Ometepe island with three children. She is looking forward to her eldest son graduating from Primary school. She discovers he can’t receive his diploma because he has no birth certificate. Having given birth to him an hour and a half away from the nearest clinic, and having no reliable transportation his birth had never been registered. 11 years old and there is no official recognition of his existence. With no birth certificate he could not be awarded his diploma.
This is a common in many rural areas of Nicaragua, when births happen at home. A birth certificate is needed to attend high school, work outside of an agricultural area, or get a passport. Obtaining one is simply a matter of registering at a government office, but this can be a near impossibility for many who live remotely with no access to travel.
Now imagine being part of the solution. Participants of Crooked Trails’ inaugural trip to Nicaragua will travel with a member of the local government to remote rural areas of Ometepe island and hike the needed paper work into coffee and plantain fields. Meeting at local schools and houses we will sign the children and some adults into recognition by the government. This small piece of paper can mean huge change for a better life.
I am so excited to be a part of this remarkable trip! If this is your kind of travel please join us. Grab the chance to explore this extraordinary Island, make a real difference in lives of its citizens, and possibly in yourself.
Nicaragua beach scene by Ken_Mayer
Howler monkey by tostie14
Nicaragua waterfall by permanently scatterbrained
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