A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!


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Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Mass was just finishing when we arrived at the church, and there was no more room to squeeze in, so we waited till things thinned out a bit before entering. Inside, it seemed like a regular church but there was a cave in front. It took a while to realize that the heads moving from left to right behind a wall constituted a line of pilgrims. Quite often a child would pop up into full view, raised up to touch the Virgin by parents.

The church was built around a cave.

The church was built around a cave. You can see the heads of pilgrims lined up behind the cross to pass under the stalactite with the image of the Virgin.

Throughout the church, people were congregating in several different areas, and we noticed the same kind of informal moving about that I had seen the night before in a large grocery store in Ciudad Victoria. No strict lines here! I went outside and joined a group waiting to go into the cave itself, while Kelly elected to wander around and take photos.

The line moved slowly, but I was in no hurry. It was fun to be surrounded by Mexicans. Without my golden-haired husband, and not saying anything, I didn’t really stand out as a foreigner. I watched the family ahead of me. The parents looked to be in their 30s, and the father was carrying the youngest of their girls on his shoulders, while the other two girls chatted with the mother and stuffed coins into holes in the grotto walls.

Everyone was nicely dressed, and the mother was made up to the nines. The husband was behind his wife and he started playing with her hair. It took her a moment to notice, but when she did, she whipped her head around and gave him a look that stopped him.

If people were praying as we went along, it wasn’t obvious. I said a small prayer myself, asking to experience love and joy more fully. The rest of the afternoon, I was in a very pleasant, inwardly quiet state of mind, so I think my prayer was answered. I also asked to become more relaxed in Mexican traffic. That one took a couple of weeks to take effect!

Someone whose prayer had certainly been answered was an elderly man I had noticed in the line, walking with his careworn-looking wife and their middle-aged son. When we got to a kind of poster board that said “Miracles” at the top, the three of them moved in front of me to pin a small heart onto the board, which had maybe a couple of hundred other little pinned body parts. There were also several pairs of crutches resting on the rocks of the cave nearby. As they pinned the heart, father, mother, and son were smiling broadly.

Walking under the Virgin on the stalactite, I couldn’t really see or reach it, so I gave a little wave. The families around me were lifting up their children to touch the stalactite, and when we went under a moist place in the rocks, everyone was touching it and then putting the moisture on themselves, so I did the same. There was something very elemental about it.

Back out in the sunshine, I wandered around with Kelly, selecting just the right tee-shirt to commemorate my journey from the dozens of booths that local people run. We skipped the rosaries, garish religious pictures, and plastic toys that were everywhere, but did sample a delicious coconut candy.

There was a holiday atmosphere. The creek that ran through town, on the way to the waterfall, had a number of boys and a few girls playing in it.

Children playing at the Mexican pilgrimage spot
Informal enjoyment was part of the activity. Here, kids play in the stream coming from near the cave while adults cook a barbecue.

Later, I read a little book in Spanish about El Chorrito that we had bought at the church. I particularly liked the comments:

Every man and woman on this earth is a pilgrim, whether through human history or our own personal history… A pilgrimage to a holy place helps us to find a significance to the entire human pilgrimage in this world.

As I had approached the church and gone through the cave with people of a different culture and language, I had felt our common journey. El Chorrito was a pilgrimage center for all, which happened to be in Mexico.

[Next: we find a beautiful campsite, Mexican-style.]

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