Thursday, January 6, 2011

Different kinds of pilgrims

I'm in a pilgrim land of sorts, a bidirectional corridor for pilgrims going to the Basilica in Mexico City and to the second-most visited cathedral in the country, San Juan de los Lagos. So when I arrive at a church and say that I'm a pilgrim, the stares aren't as gaping. Nonetheless, I don't fit the image of the regular pilgrim.

The typical pilgrimages here occur in enormous groups, departing on a particular day of the year from a particular village; often, the sexes are separated with men-only pilgrimages from a village during one month and women-only during another month. These pilgrims walk on the shoulder of the highway - major four-lane tollways - eat there, and sleep there, too. They walk in tennis shoes carrying a bag with food and a blanket. When they tire, they lie down and cover themselves for a few hours' rest, then continue on. They walk through the night, day in and day out until they reach their destination.

Not judging here, but if this were the style of pilgrimage in Europe, I never would have begun. I couldn't think of anything less pleasant than this type of journey. The constant noise of the trucks and busses, the stress, the pollution, the trash at the side of the road, the rotting corpses of dead dogs and cows... not for me! And the groups of more than 1,000 pilgrims at a go, all walking, unable to speak to each other except in screams above the noise of the traffic, sleeping meters from the traffic, eating there, and, uh, there are no bathrooms alongside the highway... who came up with this?? Why does it persist?? With the beauty and tranquility of the countryside just a kilometer or two away from the highway, why choose the pavement?? Ever year, many pilgrims are killed during these types of pilgrimages, hit by trucks or busses. Doh.

A sacristan told me of a priest in Irapuato who has a route from village to village that's not along the highway, but searched in vain for him to get the list of villages. No other priest has been able to advise me of anything but to walk along the highway. I search and I find routes, mostly parallel with the railroad tracks, and certainly far more tranquil than the highway. Maybe I add a few kilometers every day, but it's worth it to me. And every day, someone calls me 'loca' for walking such a great distance as Denver. Long, peaceful, harmonious kilometers, as a pilgrimage should be (in my opinion).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Querida peregrina Ana:
It's pretty clear that you are, it is a good thing you started doing this in Europe. Here I thought Ukraina would be the biggest challenge. I am praying you find good new boots and a great arrival at your destination. Buena suerte. Nadja