One may easily forget how a annual tradition for many Costa Rican citizens can directly impact life. After four weeks of ministry opportunities in Haiti and varied locations across the US, we were ready to return home and get back into a routine. Reintegrating into a slower-paced lifestyle punctuated with Spanish is now as familiar as the taste of a freshly baked Nestle's chocolate chip cookie or my favorite stateside craving, a Chik-fil-A chicken sandwich!
The first sight of people walking along the highway and Calle Vieja early one Sunday morning in late July made us wonder if there were a walk benefiting a local charity, but experience confirmed that it was the early arrival of the first of several million romeros returning for the annual La Romeria from points across Costa Rica.
The faithful pass through our tiny barrio to the old capital, Cartago where they pay homage to the patron saint, La Virgen de Los Angeles (La Negrita) in la Basilica de Los Angeles.
Larger crowds had been expected this year as government officials fearing spread of H1N1 influenza cancelled the festivities in 2009.
The last time we experienced this (2008), the kids and I hunkered down at home and made trips to the local pulperias for veggies, fruit and bread until the millions passed.
But this August 1st, Brian needed to be on the other side of town, and was scheduled to preach for both Sunday services--on the day when most pilgrims walked
It looked like this Saturday on the hill past our town but by the time we returned Sunday many more crowded 100 meters from our gate where a Transito roadblock stopped us. We had made alternative plans should our access be denied, but a collective sigh of relief and a satisfied family contently remained inside our refuge for the next 20 hours...with occasional trips outside the gate for milk and snacks, for a glimpse at the swelling crowd; for as of 7 AM tomorrow, only the overflowing trash bins would indicate they had passed through.