Annual Dream Festival for Rural Schools ―Mark Your Calendar for Saturday, January 26

By Deborah Van Hoewyk

One of Huatulco’s most fun events is the annual carnival put on by The Bacaanda Foundation (El Sueño Zapoteco) to raise funds for its work with the rural schools in the areas surrounding the tourist development of Huatulco. (Another fun event is Blues on the Beach, see elsewhere in this issue.)  The carnival is called the “Dream Festival” because Bacaanda’s mission is to help children in rural villages achieve their dreams.

There’s music and dancing – some by the school children and teachers, and some by you. There are raffles galore with great prizes from Huatulco shops, restaurants, and tours or activities.  There’s lots of food – some norteño, some Mexican, and drink (wine, beer, soft drinks). There are lots of games for kids and adults (don’t miss the dunk tank!), including a couple of new games very popular in Mexico.  

Lotería is a bingo-like traditional game in Mexico, originally from Europe; the Spanish brought it to Mexico in the 18th century.  There are 9 different cards with combinations of 16 squares; the caller (El Gritón) uses a deck of 54 cards containing all the images.  Each round gives you a chance to win for a horizontal line, a vertical line, or a diagonal line.  When you get a line, you yell “Lotería!!!” and you get a prize called the “vaquita,” from the rural custom of everyone contributing to buy a side of beef (“cow” = “vaca”) to provide a community meal for the celebration. The Bacaanda Foundation’s version of Lotería uses images from the artesanías available at their Workshop in Tangolunda.  

Another new game is the Rueda de Fortuna (Wheel of Fortune), where you place a token on whatever prize you want to win, the wheel spins, and you get a Mexican treat – coffee, candy, popcorn, whatever.  

Mexico’s Secretariat of Education hosts a separate agency to manage the country’s rural schools.  The Consejo Nacional de Fomento Educativo (National Council for Promoting Education). The purpose of CONAFE is to develop and disseminate curriculum and provide teachers to serve the children of marginalized communities living under the poverty line – it is up to a rural village to provide the facilities and materials, which is where the Bacaanda Foundation / El Sueño Zapateco comes in.  In the last five years, Bacaanda has built nearly two dozen school buildings and/or classrooms.  The Foundation’s Adopt-a-School program provides financial support for these schools, as do activities like the Dream Festival, so come on out and have some fun for a good cause!

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