WYD 2011

Today was mass with the Pope.  How exciting!

Well, the past 24 hours can probably only be described as CRAZY but for some strange reason it was still a great experience.  I’ll start from yesterday afternoon…

We left for the overnight vigil with some Aussie pilgrims (11 of us in total) that we have been staying with for the week.  It’s really hot in the afternoon.  We had about a 1.5km walk to the train station, before having to catch 2 metro trains to our destination.  The first train wasn’t so bad – not too busy.  The second train was busier when we got on, and about 2 stops later it was out of control.  We couldn’t move.  We were hot and sweaty and more and more people kept trying to push on at each stop even though there was NO WAY that they were going to fit in.  I made the rookie mistake of not taking my backpack off, and by the time I needed to there was no way that I was able to.  It would have been a good 40 minute train ride.  Once we had got as close as we could on the train, we had to walk.  The train station was packed.  Still hot and sweaty – so close to the strangers.  The walk would have been another hour.  In the heat.  And stuck in the crowd that wasnt moving all that fast.  There were locals throwing water from their windows to the street below.  Lots of them.  It was impressive to see. But we arrived at the airfield at last, and had to walk for at least another 30 minutes to get to our section.  The airfield was like a giant dust bowl with some gravel. The seating areas had some dead grass but mostly it was dust and prickles. We had practically front section seats right in front of the stage/alter, but by the time we arrived our section was full (go figure – we had assigned seating). So we got moved back to the F section (about half way back).  We found 2 small spots we could fit our group into and set up our area.  Then Mrs Hudson and I went to get the ‘picnic’.  This was our food for dinner, breakfast and lunch while we were there.  We ended up walking all the way back to where we came in, then found that 11 food bags was a lot to carry back – especially after carting our backpacks all the way there.  Each bag contained 3 bottles of water, 3 fruit boxes and a heap of food.  And we had 11 to carry between the 2 of us. Picture a green bag full of shopping (including all that water).   And it was a long walk back.  Luckily a fellow pilgrim saw our struggle part way back and offered to help us.  It was hard to find our group again, but we did in the end.  Food and a spot to rest.  Things were starting to look up.

Would you believe it.  It had been hot all day and partway through the evening vigil it started to rain.  We thought it would pass, but boy were we wrong.  And who would have thought to be prepared for rain?  Certainly not us.  Or most of the other pilgrims.  So it ended up pouring for about 10 minutes.  And all over our bags.  They stopped the vigil and asked everyone to pray for the rain to stop.  It did.  Just long enough for the Pope to finish the vigil, then it started to rain again.  For about half an hour this time.  Unfortunately all we could do was laugh.  A number of people left.  This cleared a small amount of space to allow our group to rejoin.  We didn’t think that we would get any sleep, but in the end we did manage to get some on our wet mats.  In our small space.  With our adopted family. 

We woke up for the mass this morning which was amazing.  The Pope drove around the walkways between our areas before the mass started.  The atmosphere was electric.  Lots of singing, dancing, chanting and flag waving.  Really amazing. 

But I can fill you in on the rest later. 

Until next time…

Mrs Elliott


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