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Tecate, Baja California Mexico

Rural Ejidos and Indigenous Cultural Preservation


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Typical Program

Generating awareness by identifying, protecting, and restoring the cultural heritage of the Rural Ejidos of Tecate is the aim of this program. Visitors are welcomed by traditional ceremony and dance. Participants will be immersed in community working side by side with local leaders to help improve educational facilities, community centers, rehabilitation centers, orphanages, local libraries, and promote sustainable agriculture initiatives. By connecting old traditions with a renewed vision we hope to build new institutions that will carry forward the customs of these native peoples.

This project includes opportunities for participants to engage in traditional Kumiai arts with visits to local ceramic artisans' studios and a crafts workshop providing support to micro-enterprise initiatives. We will also go hiking around one of Tecate's lakes to perform an ecological survey identifying and harvesting local medicinal plants. Shop from local merchants in the historic town square of Tecate and see the gorgeous murals in the Basilica de Guadalupe. Visit Casa de Migrate, migrant house and listen to local migrant stories. There are also opportunities to learn about and work with honeybees along with a workshop on the “basics of building & repurposing recycled materials”. This program may also include a refreshing stop at the local hot springs of Santa Veronica followed by a scenic drive through Valle de Guadalupe wine country. Learn directly from regional experts with presentations on micro-credit, indigenous identity, and the history of migration.

Check out a Sample Itinerary    [view]    [download]

Duration and Directions

Tecate is an ideal border program location because of its easy access from San Diego and is a quick scenic one hour drive through the Northern Sierra de San Pedro Mártir Mountains.

Trips can be arranged for five to ten days where visitors fly directly into San Diego’s Lindbergh Field Airport which is uniquely located right in the heart of downtown next to the iconic San Diego Bay.

Upon arrival to the hostel and after a rest, an orientation will be provided including an introduction to the hosting organization including culture, safety, rules and expectations. Volunteers will also learn about the critical issues facing communities, including the impact of migration and globalization in this unique region. The orientation will provide an overview of activities for the week and background on the projects, people, and places where we will engage.
Volunteer Requirements

Volunteers should be adaptable and flexible, willing to work as part of a team, and respectful of local traditions, culture, and customs. Those taking part in communal solidarity projects need to be capable of doing physical work, although previous experience is not essential. Spanish language ability is useful, but not necessary.

Click here to view the packing checklist.

Food and Accommodations
Each night, volunteers will enjoy regional food, traditionally prepared by Los Ninos de Baja nutrition experts. As part of your immersion experience we’ve invited a local Promotora from Tecate to join the group assisting with meal preparation, education, and cultural exchange. Enjoy traditional Mexican dishes prepared with a vegetarian nutritional model including fresh veggies, rice, legumes, soy, and other regional fare. Not to worry carnivores, we’ll still have chicken pozole and various tamales. Replenish with homemade agua frescas like, horchata, hibiscus, and tamarindo. For student teams, preparing food, eating together, cleaning up, and recycling are all part of the learning and immersion experience. We’ll aslo make sure to stop over and enjoy Tecate’s famous pan dulce sweet bread.

Rancho Cienega Redonda Hostel is a charming and picturesque site offering visitors tranquil accommodation uniquely located within the Rural Ejidos of Tecate. Facilities include: bunk beds, central showers, covered-outdoor kitchen and dining area, lagoon, trees, gardens, basketball court, walking trails, horse trails, and 24-hour on-site staff and security. This retreat-like setting is the perfect home base for your work in the community. 

Community and Region

Over its 100 year history, due to its surroundings, Tecate has remained largely untouched by the bustling cities of San Diego and Tijuana that lay only 40 miles west. Kuuchamaa Mountain, known as Tecate Peak in the United States, as well as many of the surrounding hills and mountains, have created a natural boundary, keeping many of the modern day influences out of Tecate. Many of these mountains have been considered sacred ground for the indigenous Kumiai people dating back to their first arrival in the region hundreds of years ago. As a result, many of the surrounding areas remain to be large populations of the indigenous people and the native Kumiai language can still be heard in many of the surrounding villages.

Since its formal founding in 1892, many ranchers have moved into the area because of its rich natural resources, particularly the river that boasts the name of the city, and fertile lands that have yielded grain, grapes, and olives among other harvests. This migration of people, along with time and other historical events, has developed some of the most unique cultures and customs in all of Mexico. Tecate has developed a mixture of indigenous cultures with a modern city vibrancy that makes life here a unique blend of modern day history. 

Via Local Partner Organizations

Los Niños de Baja is a Mexican based NGO that has been working in the border region of Mexicali since 1975. Los Niños’ programs address the basic needs of communities by building the capacities of the residents to become agents of positive change. The community members in turn create opportunities for themselves, their families, and their communities.