Tuesday, December 8, 2009
December 8th is a national holiday in Paraguay to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Caacupe is the Paraguayan virgin, and the holiday is actually called the Virgen de Caacupe. The amazing part of this holiday is that thousands and thousands of Paraguayans walk, starting on the 7th of December, the 40 or more kilometers (sometimes they walk as from as far as Ciudad del Este, which is a 5 hour car ride) to arrive at the Basilica of the Virgin of Miracles of Caacupe. The basilica is huge and has a statue of the sacred virgin Caacupe. Everything is shut down in the entire country for this holiday. Apparently, there was once a flood through the city of Caacupe, but the basilica and the statue were safe from the flood waters. That started the holiday and the pilgrimage to the city. If I didn't have grades due on Friday, I would try to go to Caacupe just to see the spectacle, but that will have to wait until next year. I've heard this is one of the best cultural experiences in Paraguay.