Our second day of our journey to Madrid for World Youth Day started aboard our Thai Airways 747-400 flying somewhere over Eastern Europe…or possibly the Middle East…I can’t be sure!
After some very good sleep, and a nice breakfast, we landed in Madrid at about 8:15am local time, and made our way through both border control and customs. Not being the experienced traveller, I’m not sure whether our expeditious transit through both controls is the norm…or more a sign of Divine favour for this group of pilgrims from the Antipodes.
Anyway…as we walked through the arrivals gate we were enthusiastically met by our other group leaders, Sue & Brian, who had travelled over a few days before the main group. They shepherded us onto our bus for the journey towards Plasencia, and eventually our final destination of Bejar, where we will celebrate our Days in the Diocese experience. There were a lot of groups moving through the airport at Madrid this morning, all of them very obviously there to participate in World Youth Day. It’s hard not to get swept along with the very palpable feeling of excitement and anticipation that was present in the baggage claim area this morning.
We spent the time on our bus catching up with the latest developments for our pilgrimage experience, and beginning the more spiritual part of our journey. We broke out the guitar, and sang some of the songs from the specially prepared booklet, and our voices weren’t too bad considering we’d basically been traveling for twenty four hours, although our rendition of “I Still Call Australia Home”, meant to be our contribution to the cultural event in Bejar, definitely needs some more work!
We arrived in Bejar just in time for the famous Spanish siesta, something that I think I could get used to very quickly. Having been distributed to our various host families for the next few days, the only thing I, and my two fellow pilgrims, can even begin to fathom is a shower….and then some sleep. There is a more formal welcome ceremony tonight (hopefully after the heat has dissipated a little), and then there will be more adventures/activities over coming days.
I’ve just returned home after the welcoming ceremony, and we, along with the other pilgrims from around the world have been made to feel particularly welcome by all those involved in planning and organizing this Days In The Diocese experience, both church and secular. Walking back from that event in the twilight with a goodly number of people gracing the streets of this ancient town took me by surprise when I suddenly discovered it was past 10pm.
I was surprised not only by the beauty that surrounded me, but also by the fact that I was feeling remarkably good given the time! Tired certainly; but feeling very good!
And now to a light dinner, and then bed in order to be ready for day three of our journey.