"Being welcomed into a community and learning about family life in a different culture were highlights for me," says Jeanne Kearsley, who recently spent time in two Yanapuma villages. During her time in Ecuador, Kearsley got the chance to test out a horseback riding program in the mountain town of La Chimba and give feedback on a small museum and zoo being developed in the rainforest community of Chichicorumi. "The program is really a great opportunity for people short on time to learn about the daily lives and challenges affecting people in a developing country," says Kearsley.
The details A fee of $140 per week covers rustic accommodations, meals, some guided tours, and support from Yanapuma during your visit. Yanapuma will provide preparatory information and explain in detail how to get to your village from Quito, Ecuador's main international gateway. Currently, you can choose to participate in Cultural Exchanges in four different rainforest communities and two different sierra communities. Potential volunteers should have at least a basic knowledge of Spanish and come with an open mind and willingness to be flexible. Visits can be arranged throughout the year. Round-trip fall flights from Miami to Quito start at $320 plus taxes on American.
Hear Ireland's folktales and historyProvider:Irish Folk Tours Price:$55
Many travelers, especially those of Irish heritage, head to Ireland in search of "untainted" Irish cultural experiences and a window into how their ancestors lived. Upon arrival, however, some might be surprised to see how the country has been modernized and transformed by one of the strongest economies in Europe, earning itself the nickname "Celtic Tiger." There are lots of historic attractions and tours available to visitors, but most present the stories of famous revolutionaries, authors, and politicians, not the common people from whom most Irish immigrants descended.
Luckily, there are still a few caretakers of Ireland's fascinating folklore and history. One such authority on Irish storytelling and fairy lore, Johnny Daly, recently started a new cultural program in Dublin, An Evening of Food, Folk, and Fairies.
Every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from May through October, Daly offers an evening of storytelling and Irish cuisine in The Brazen Head, Ireland's oldest pub (it dates to 1198). Over a four-course candlelit traditional Irish meal, Daly tells stories of how ordinary Irish people lived in the past, including their superstitions about fairies and other mystical beings. Afterwards, you can watch traditional music being played in the pub downstairs.
"Johnny really fleshes out and goes beyond what you get from the more traditional historical tours," says Dale Lang of Toronto, who attended the program with her family this June. "We were in Dublin briefly and if we had not done the Food, Folk, and Fairy program we would have missed the personal experience of learning more about the Irish people through one delightful Irish storyteller. There's nothing like a good meal and good stories to make you feel like you've really been somewhere."
The detailsThe program's cost covers the meal and storytelling. To learn more about accommodations and other attractions and tours in Dublin, check the Dublin Tourism website and SmarterTravel.com's Dublin Travel Guide. Flights from New York to Dublin this fall start at $297 round-trip plus taxes on American.