The kindness of pilgrims

Feb 8, 2012 by     Comments Off    Posted under: life, Photographs, travel

Today we go on our final training excursion to the town of Xochicalco. On this excursion we are to give our motor coach commentary on the two topics we’ve researched. This commentary and the presentation we must give tomorrow account for a significant portion of our grade. We are all nervous, so wish us luck.

Something happens when you have a group of people that have gathered in a particular place for a particular reason. I’ve likened this course to a boot camp and in many ways it is. Everything about this experience has been intense. It’s been physically challenging and academically demanding (it’s true when they say you really EARN your certification) which, in itself is intense. Then you couple that with the incredible beauty of the surroundings, the generosity of the people and the camaraderie of your classmates and you have the environment in which life-long bonds are created.

I first recognized this in the lavatory line at the Shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe. I was one of many women standing in a snaking line down a flight of stairs waiting to pay my 3 pesos to receive my strip of toilet paper and gain admittance to the rest room.

Standing in a line like this you pass the time smiling at the other women and exchanging simple greetings. For reasons that were personal to each of us we had all come to the shrine to see the Tilma with the image of the Holy Virgin. The crowds, music of the choir and organ and the sheer pageantry of the day was quite intense.

Out of respect for where we were visiting, I wore a skirt that morning. You need to know that I love wearing skirts on warm spring and summer days but I don’t wear them as often as I’d like and I have a reason for that. I have an irrational fear of tucking the hem of my skirt into my underpants after using the toilet then walking around in public totally unaware.

Well, that’s exactly what I did. I had come out of one of the stalls and was standing at the sink washing my hands when a women gently tapped my arm and spoke to me in Spanish. Naturally, I didn’t know what she was saying but I did notice that the other women had turned to look at what she was talking about and they were smiling. It only took a few more gestures for me to clue in and realize that the back of my skirt was tucked into my undies. Had it not been for the kindness of the pilgrims, I would have spent the rest of my visit unknowingly displaying my Fruit of the Looms to all and sundry.

Over the time I have been here in Cuernavaca, I’ve been privileged to meet and get to know some really amazing people. Each of us is here for our own particular reason and it seems like many of us are experiencing similar life transitions. We only have 3 more days here and already I feel a sadness growing among us. A bond has been created here – one, I believe for several of us, may be more than that of shared experience.

I know I will take each one of my classmates and instructors home with me in my heart. I look forward to working in an industry with these folks as I know that just like the woman in the lavatory, they will always have my back.

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