This might be strange in the eyes of a foreigner but it's big amongst us locals. The carnival in La Vega is one of the most colorful carnivals in the country. Every Sunday in February the streets get packed with people that go see the parades, being the most famous (and feared to some point) the Diablos Cojuelos - people dressed in costumes and masks with lots of color, small mirrors and "cascabeles" that rattle when they walk. They carry a "balloon" made of pigs' bladders and hit people on the street (never with bad intention) so beware!
Photos courtesy of one of my best friends.
Santo Cerro or the Holy Hill is the place where a battle between Spaniards and Taínos took place. The story of this battle as I've heard it has 2 variantions: It's said that (1) Columbus made a cross and put it in on this hill and that the Virgin Mary appeared to them as they were fighting or that (2) the Virgin appeared to Columbus the night before the battle and that that's how he knew they'd win.
Today there's a church where Virgen de las Mercedes is revered. And from this Hill an amazing view over La Vega Real Valley can be enjoyed. And not so far from there, the ruins of the old town of La Vega (La Vega Vieja), which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1562, can be seen.
Virgen de las Mercedes is the patron saint of the Dominican Republic.
The carnival takes place in different towns around Feb. 27th, the National holiday, the anniversary of independence from Haiti in 1844. In each place there are several groups competing to make the best, most extravagant and scary costumes and on the day of the carnival they parade in the streetst. Numerous merenue bands play as lound as possible. .
We went to the La Vega carnval, they have some of the best costumes. The Diablos ('devils', that's how the masked men are called) and most of the children carry inflated pigs' or cows' bladders and try to hit as many people as possible with them, supposedly to punish them for their sins. Well, there are some nasty guys who instead of inflating the bladder fill it up with sand so it gets very heavy. We both had the chance of experiencing that: my husband ended with a broken cell-phone in the back pocket and I, with a huuuge purple bruise on my thigh. We tried to avoid being hit and my man protected me as much as he could taking most of the hits directed at me, still this one came as a surprise, it hurt so much that that it made me cry. I had to hold back my husband from beating up the jerk who hit me. Still, it was worth it to see the carnival and hopefully we paid for most of our sins :)
Many mountains are located here. For example, you'll find Constanza here. Constanza is located 5,000 above sea level, surrounded by a very mountainous area. Many rivers are located here too. Whether you like hiking, mountainclimbing, or any activity with rivers (such as fishing), you can do it here in La Vega
It has this really nice countryside to it. The people here are very humble, sweet, and charming. I love the whole environment of it all.
On February 27th (Dominican Independence Day), there were many carnivals going on. Masks such as these went around the streets.