Dia de la Virgin de los Angeles
Los Angeles Travel Blog› entry 12 of 12 › view all entries
i don't know all the historical details, and i won't look them up right now, because it will take away the context of my experience. But, from what i know, in 1635 a rock spoke to a girl in Cartago. The rock was shaped like the Virgin Mary. She freaked out and told her priest. Her priest went to see it for himself, and sure enough, the Virgin Mary rock spoke to him, too. This rock is known as La Virgin de los Angeles or La Negrita, which in English means the Black Madonna. She is also the patron saint of Costa Rica. This history might not be totally accurate. If you're interested in the story, look it up, because i'm not an encyclopedia, haha.
So to commemorate the arrival of the Virgin Mary through a talking rock, Ticos take a mecca each year on the 2nd of August, which was easy for me to remember because it's my Dad's birthday.
Now pilgrims come from everywhere in the country to visit the basilica. And the dedicated ones don't drive. They walk. They walk to show their dedication. And they come from everywhere. We would see them walking along the international highway for weeks -- because you can't walk from Liberia to Cartago in a day. No, it takes weeks. It's kind of like the pilgrimage to Saint James in Spain if anyone's familiar with that.
Well, i wasn't prepared to walk to Cartago. Maybe next time. But i had to work and travel the country (what better way to travel than to walk from San Ramon to Cartago, Jim? Jaja) and stuff.
The people of San Ramon that don't go to Cartago go to Los Angeles. And when i say the people, i mean the entire city. It would be the perfect day for criminals to rob houses, because the whole city is in another city. But even criminals seem to respect La Negrita. I stood outside taking photos for 5 minutes to show how this flood of people just kept coming.
I would estimate that Los Angeles is about 7 miles away. i really don't remember. But i do remember that we had to walk winding roads up and down mountains. i also remember that Felix decided to make the trek barefoot. i have photographic evidence of that feat. He told me he chose to walk it barefoot so he could "suffer the way Jesus Christ did when he died for our sins.
Somehow we got stuck behing the mariachis playing "Ave Maria." They wouldn't play "Free Bird" or "Stairway to Heaven" or even the simple power chords of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." No, they only played "Ave Maria." And they played it for 7 miles. Needless to say, i've heard "Ave Maria" enough times to skip church for the rest of my life. No, i'm kidding, it was cool.
The mariachis followed a church van that announced things through a megaphone in static-filled Spanish. i didn't understand a word of what they said. The church van also had a golden-plated replica of La Virgin de los Angeles. You will notice in my photos that i don't have any close-ups of this Virgin Mary replica.
Funny story. Every time i shot a close-up photo of the statue of the Virgin Mary, my camera shut off and didn't take the photograph. This happened at least five times until i got creeped out and stopped trying. And these weren't all shots in a row. i turned the camera back on and tried right away. It shut off. "Oh, maybe the batteries are dead," i thought. i turned the camera back on and took a quick photo of Felix and Carla. It worked. I focused on the statue and took a shot. The camera shut off again. "Weird," i thought to myself.
A couple miles down the road, there was a "Minisuper," also known as a "Pulperia" (which i confused on my first day with a place that might sell "pulpo" jaja), or, in English, a miniature supermarket, i guess.
Finally, we arrived at the Los Angeles cathedral where Magaly was waiting for me. (She took a bus up with her boss and her boss's boyfriend.) That's when i learned of the other side of this crazy holiday: It was like Christmas and St.
OK, no more typing! There are waaaay too many stories! Great country. Great time. Pura vida sums it up wonderfully.