December 12, 2018 was a big holiday in Mexico - the celebration at The Basilica de Guadalupe, Mexico City. A huge holiday for Mexicans. For Catholics, this is the pilgrimage of the Perfect Virgin Holy Mary Mother of God, and for the indigenous or non-Catholics, she represents Toci, the Grandmother of who we all Are.
For the people of Mexico it is the blending of their two traditions, for me, it is one step closer to the story I am chasing, the vision I am chasing all the way to the eventual destination of Tikal, Guatemala. The story of Toci, our eternal Grandmother of Who We Really Are, the story of the coming of the conquerors, and how despite the suppression, Toci still remains in our hearts, ready and waiting for us to rediscover and resurrect into our beings.
What follows is my own mini-pilgrimage on October 12, 2018, two months ago at the Basilica de Zapopan, next to the city of Guadalajara; and a translated version of the story behind the Virgen de Guadalupe.
On October 12th, 2018; I left the house at around 5am to catch the bus to go to downtown Guadalajara - anticipated to take about 1.5 hours, so I would barely make it on time to the beginning of the Romeria of the Virgin of Zapopan, where the statue of The Mother Mary starts her 10km pilgrimage from the Guadalajara Cathedral to the Basilica de Zapopan.
When the bus was about 2km away from my destination, traffic was halted, and I looked at my phone's rendition of Google Maps. I saw nothing but stop sign icons all over the place on the map - no traffic allowed within a kilometer of the route. I had never seen such a thing before. I decided to get off the bus; as it would take more time to wait on the bus than to power-walk to my destination. There was 50 minutes left before the procession began.
I could not get exactly to the start as there were many people crowded at the beginning of the route. Reports say there were over 3 million people there. So I settled with arriving about 1.8km away; along the route on Avenida Juarez. Everything was masterfully planned - every few blocks on both sides of Av. Juarez, were blocks of 30 porta-potties, traffic blocked off, security personnel, paramedics, and portable clinics were stationed --- and I was slam dunked into a sea of people.
For those of you who do not know me; I am physically legally blind and very hard of hearing, especially at nighttime. The sun was not set to rise until well after 7:20am. The skies were still black; littered with many lights of all kinds. I could not see myself outside of a paper bag; and instead, I felt the feelings, thoughts, and presence of millions of people crowded around me. I felt very overwhelmed and overstimulated. It was like floating in a sea of the energy of people, where there was no boundary between different people.
The streets in Mexico in general are unpredictable and uneven; especially with much of the streets being cobblestone. I could not rely on my conventional senses to navigate, Instead, I had intuition, my empath senses, feelings, and my sense of touch to guide me. I could feel the sea of people slowly writhing their way west on Av. Juarez. The center of the street was sparse; and I felt a procession of dancers in Aztec garb; who would untiringly, persistently, dance non-stop little by little the entire route. The procession would start at 6:30am; and the Virgen de Zapopan would complete her route at around noon, give or take half an hour.
During the entire time, I had my fear of stumbling, tripping, and falling in the back of my mind, accompanied with a low but steady hum of tension. I clutched my blind man's stick, making sure the red stripe was clearly visible. I would move when the space would open up in my immediate front. My stick would tell me if there was something in the way, so I would be prepared step to my left or right as appropriate; while neatly avoiding the center clearance; which would feel like a sparseness that had the pace of a zig-zagging caterpillar.
Breaths would come ragged, frenetic, as I concentrated for any footholds. Never a moment to rest; catch my breath; or to consider my step. There was absolutely no time to think and ponder, as a donkey would in its stepping. Alas, intuition came first; action came first; steps were taken as soon as they became available. Straight, left, right, sprint, medium pace, or baby steps. Are there children afoot? Who was where? What was the relative pace of the rest of the immediate sea of people around me? My pacing was always changing - A..., B..., C..., D..., ... .. a, b, c, d, abcd, a.... ... b.... ... c.... ... d.... ...
On several occasions, my midsection would slam into a pole, smart, and I would quickly sidestep, making sure I did not lose pace or disrupt the sea around me. There was always **barely** enough room to sidestep or minor-vault over the obstacle to keep up. There was not even time to take a sip of water or take a bite of food; even tough there were plenty of vendors with tiny stalls every so often along the way. There was pure adrenaline coursing throughout my being, sustaining me, keeping my heart beating at maximum rate, and me going non-stop. I needed no substance, no moisture. I was a part of this Fabric of Life, this morphogenic field of these millions of people. We all moved with purpose. We all moved with the Virgen de Zapopan on her annual pilgrimage to her home.
Dark black skies would gradually lighten into a dark blue grey, then lighten until it became a light slate grey. That was the only sight I was permitted - this monotone of color that I had no reference to, no real knowledge of, as I continued to frantically grab at footholds, purchases for my aching feet. West along Av. Juarez, then turning right to go north on some other large boulevard. Scenery, colonias (neighborhood-districts) would gradually change and be passed by, as with the character of the street I was progressing along. Flat, slope up, slope down, curve inwards, curve outwards.
Eventually, I saw a huge shift, as I detected fencing demarcating the central procession from the crowds, and I picked the left side which veered away from the main street and turned into a miniature labyrinth of small side streets and alleyways. I followed the crowd as the sun broke through the clouds of the slate grey, causing rivulets of sweat to run down my face and back. From the intensity of the sun, it was shortly after 9am. I kept going, as the only difference from before was wetness of my sweat. The aches now turned into pain, especially hip pain that served as a temper to my adrenaline; feeding into my excitement.
The flow slowed down, and the sea of people gained significant density. My sense of overwhelm increased, from what felt like 120% to well past 400%. I had arrived at the Basilica de Zapopan, well ahead of the Virgin. We moved really fast, and I heard the commentators on microphones, on a overhead stage comment on our rapid pace - the early comers. Songs were sung:
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