Friday…getting ready for the return trip

Friday August 26
7:00 am Early Risers
“The early bird gets the worm.” We woke up early and we got the worm. Getting up at 5:30 in this morning was entirely worth it in order to have a private mass at the basilica of Our Lady of Fatima. During the homily, our chaplain (Fr. Jose Felix) spoke to us about holiness. He said that, as seen in the lives of the children of Fatima, the only thing that matters in our lives when we arrive to the pearly gate is love. It was a perfect conclusion to our pilgrimage. After being at WYD and all these places of pilgrimage, we are all motivated to fight for holiness. Now we know what to do. As St. Augustine says, “Love and do as you will.”
11:00 am Desert Travels
The past three hours have been extremely entertaining. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. One for each hour. I am surprised the bus has remained so quiet for such a long time. In the past hour, though, everyone has begun to wake up. We all feel the need for a rest stop, but there has not been one in sight for the past hour and it does not look like we will see one anytime soon.
Take a look out the window: dirt, a bush, more dirt, another bush….more bushes! The landscape doesn’t get much more exciting than that. We are in the edge of our seats looking out for civilization so we can stop, get out, and use the restroom.
3:00 pm Stop and Rest
We finally found a place to stop in the middle of this desert around 12:30. Being an avid road-trip traveler with my family, I would rate it as a 5 star truck stop. It even has showers. I am surprised at how many people are here. Considering that the liveliest stuff around is desert vegetation, the rest stop seems to be the hubbub of….the town (if there was one). Of course, wherever our behemoth group goes, we make the lines for the restroom a half hour longer and we give the stores a considerable amount of business. So, I am sure you can see how, when all 50 of us descended from our bus and infiltrated the restrooms, the little store, the outdoor seating area, and the ice-cream stand, for that one hour, we were “the town.”
After we ate lunch there, a mom of a lay consecrated (who are both traveling with us), treated us all out to ice-cream. It was a refreshing treat in the midst of our desert travels and it gave us the sugar energy we needed to stay awake (for most people) to pray
the rosary in the bus.
5:00 pm Back at the Beginning of the Loop; in Toledo, Spain
About two hours after our restful stop in the desert, we returned to civilization, a matter of fact, a once fairly ancient one in the city of Toledo. We did stay in Toledo for three nights earlier this week, but aside from when I got lost, we never went around (or through the city). We only used it as an anchor point to see Avila, San Lorenzo del Escorial, and Valle de Los Caidos. This time, we are staying at a place, called “The Good Shepherd,” which is often used as a place for spiritual exercises. When we arrived, as I do in every place we go, I asked the sister (in my rough Spanish) if there was wifi here. I didn’t get my hopes up considering that it is a retreat house. To my surprise, she told me that there is wifi on the first floor and then, upon seeing me sit down with my iPad, she commented on how advanced in technology we Americans are. I told her that I am writing a blog about my pilgrimage experience. She nodded in approval…and that’s all to the story.
10:00 pm Hurricane Scare!
Don’t be scared for us, we are farther away from hurricane Irene than any of you (most likely). However, before I start my weather report, let me tell you about what we have been doing in the past 5 hours.
Our bus driver took us up to a place where you can see the entire city of Toledo. Well, we could see it. Maybe you can see it also if the pictures get posted (check out the videos too). From there, we tried to walk back to our lodgings. However, for our group, that didn’t work too well. After stopping in a famous cathedral (where there was a wedding happening), at a churro shop, another church (where a group of elderly were praying the rosary), and then at a few shops, our time was cut short and several native “Toledoans” advised us to just take the bus. We probably wouldn’t have made it back in time for dinner even if we hadn’t stopped so much. While waiting for the bus, we prayed the Stations of the Cross together since it is Friday. Quite the pilgrimage experience!
Weather report: All of upper New England is in a frenzy, rushing to supermarkets and hardware stores to stock up for the coming of hurricane Irene. However, the only major city that will be hit by Irene is Boston, where we are flying into. It is very possible that our flight will be delayed for an hour or maybe just a few days. But, don’t worry about us, the Spanish people are very amiable, the consecrated (our chaperones) are very experienced at taking care of these kinds of situations, and as I have said just about every day, the food here is great! However, there is always a positive side to everything.  Being detained  in Madrid or London would make an exciting blog post….I’ve already thought of a title: “STRANDED…at least it’s not a desert island.” Feel free to call my sense of humor “dry” (like a desert!), but for now, we are off to a good night’s rest before a big day tomorrow.

About Margaret Antonio

Margaret Antonio is valedictorian of the 2012 graduating class of Immaculate Conception Academy. She is a student at Boston College.
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One Response to Friday…getting ready for the return trip

  1. woodyjones says:

    Whoa! Did you get to go inside the Basilica of Santa Cruz del Valle at the Valle de los Caidos? I thought it was shut down “for repairs”. It is one of my favorites in all of Spain.

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