It’s been about 2 weeks since I stepped onto the bus to take a tour of Mexico City and surrounding areas, and it certainly was an adventure. The bus ride itself was 14 hours from Comala to Mexico City – or just “Mexico” as they call it here. There was so much to do and see that this will probably be broken up into at least two posts.
When not on the go all day from 5 or 6 in the morning until nighttime, there were 4 of us per bedroom in the hotels, which was probably why the cost was so cheap. We were all adults, but the end of the trip reminded me of traveling with children because something that had nothing to do with the wonders we were visiting was the most talked-about and laughed-about part of the experience.
That “something” was snoring. One of my roommates snored and by the second night, I finally took my pillow and blanket and camped out on the bathroom floor, eventually falling asleep where they found me the next morning. Years ago, I remember one of my Spanish professors saying that in this culture, people have no problem laughing at themselves or others and that turned out to be true. I felt so bad for this woman, but I couldn’t get any sleep at all in the same room. However, the women (including the one who snored) found this hysterical, and talked and laughed about it with just about everyone on the bus. Being brought up as I was, I was amazed at this, but grateful, too. They were laughing at themselves as much as my situation. The final night, we were given a suite, so I had my own bedroom and finally got a good night’s sleep.
So after 14 hours on the bus, we went directly to the Basilica, before even going to the hotel. I already knew that there were two churches, an old one which looks as you would expect a church to look, and a new one which was beautiful inside, but reminded me more of a round stadium on the outside. I was surprised to find that there is actually a third church, older than the other two, and that it was on a tilt due to instability of the ground, causing the second one to be built. Think of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and you get the idea.
There was a delegation of us from Colima State, and during one of the several masses at the new basilica, there was a procession of Colimenses bringing food up to the altar to donate to the poor – sacks and sacks of produce from our state. The bishop was also there and before entering the church, as we stood outside, he liberally sprinkled holy water on us and anything we were holding in our hands.
As an aside, our local priest was on the trip with us. During some of our bus stops, vendors would come aboard and go up and down the aisle trying to sell various things, so it became a joke that when our priest would get on the bus, people would start asking him what he was selling.
This is an immense area, and a very busy pilgrimage site. In the plaza were whole families with their tents and sleeping bags set up with barely room to walk between them. Tents were also set up along the walkways. I also noted that some of the faithful would crawl into the church and down the aisles on their knees. I had seen that before while visiting a church in Montreal, where they actually had roped off a pathway up the stairs just for these pilgrims who do that.
As I said in the beginning of this post, there is way too much to tell all at once, so I will leave my commentary right here and add some photos, with more to follow tomorrow. You can click on each picture for more of an explanation.
And so good night until tomorrow…..