Dozens of highly decorated ox carts are slowly making their way south from Masaya and two other cities in the central part of Nicaragua’s Pacific coastal regions. They are heading for a small place called Popoyuapa, in Rivas, Nicaragua’s southern-most department, bordering the frontier with Costa Rica. Their route south is along the pan-American highway, where police will slow down the normal traffic to give the ox carts safe passage. The journey there, which in a car would take little more than an hour, will require four days of travelling at less than walking pace, followed by four days for the journey back.
The pilgrimage is an annual event that takes place two weeks before Easter. The aim is religious – to honour the image of Nuestro Señor del Rescate, to whom is attributed various miracles. The dominant colour of the ox carts is purple, for Easter, but blue (for Nicaragua, the colour of its flag) and yellow (for Catholicism) also abound. On each cart is built a shelter of palm leaves in which the family – and often its dogs – travel, carrying food and water for the trip.