Sunday, 11 September 2011

A PILGRIMS STORY – remembering world youth day 2011

Geneva, a member of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception tells about her journey to Spain.

It was my first time visiting a country other than my home islands of Trinidad and Tobago. I always wanted to go to Spain. As far as I understood, World Youth Day is the gathering of youths from all over the world to have Holy Mass with His Holiness, the Pope.

There were many, many people, but at no time was I afraid. I was in a foreign country but at no time did I feel alone. I made friends with Spaniards, other trinbagonians and people from other countries. Here is my story -

We left home and arrived to London, I was very enthusiastic when the plane lifted off on it’s long flight. When we arrived in Madrid, I realized the difference between London and Spain, London was green and Spain was dry and brown. That made me really sad, but when we landed I wanted to scream "Spain here I am, finally I have arrived, woo hoo!".

Our first stop was a College in Toledo. We stayed there from the Monday (8th August) to Thursday (11th August). I found Toledo interesting and it’s Cathedral very beautiful (hermosa) and very big (grande). Much larger than our own. We were forbidden from taking photos on the inside. It was like a museum, instead of a church, their patron saint was exposed and acknowledgement was made. I can clearly remember there were ancient artifacts stored and preserved inside the cathedral, rings, crosses, crucifixes and books, very big books, gold and silver items.

What awed me the most, was that all the churches that I visited in Spain, had paintings all over: the floor; the ceilings and walls. There were many statues and carvings in the architecture of the buildings, especially the cathedral in Toledo, there were also a huge crypt, which was not open for viewing.

The Toledo hosts were very friendly, kind and extremely helpful. With so many people from different countries in the same place at the same time it can be difficult. Still, praise and worship were organized every morning and it was great. Even in the night there were praise and worship. Every one participated. I really enjoyed it.

In the morning the breeze was cold, but as the day wore on it became very hot. Money was spent on water everywhere, and we endured.

Then on the Thursday evening the Trinidad and Tobago contingent left for Mocejon, where we met our host families. There was a Joy of belonging in my heart, to see strangers waiting and welcoming us with their arms open wide, I have never felt that feeling before, I wanted to cry. Both anthems of the countries were played, and the people were anxiously waiting to see who they were taking home with them and we (trinbagonians) were waiting nervously to see who we were going home with.

After meeting our new siblings, mummies and daddies, our youths gave them a taste of home. "I is Ah Trini" was our anthem and the Mocejon folks enjoyed it, the welcoming was finished off with fireworks. I must say staying at our host families was very entertaining, and marvelous, we were treated like royalty. We even got a chance to see the famous “running of the bulls” in a neighbouring town.

The people fed us like crazy, there were food everywhere. On Monday 15th we left for Madrid. It was a very emotional parting.

We stopped over in Toledo one last time for a mass and entertainment, where we (TnT) stared on stage. In Madrid we stayed at a Sports complex with people from other countries.

One day, the Dominican Sisters headed by Sr. Alleyne, went to Calegruega, where Saint Dominic was born. The relics of Saint Dominic's father and elder brother were there as well. We saw the only statue in the world that had a chastity belt with no lock on the Virgin Mary and she was also pregnant.

For the opening mass of the welcoming of the Pope, everyone were chanting "Esta Es La Juventud de Papa" which means “this is the youths' father”, and "Benedicto".

Leaving Spain was a bitter-sweet moment. I will cherish every moment.

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