The massive movement of the faithful and not-so-faithful was in high gear late Wednesday and early today. Four or six abreast pilgrims filled sidewalks and traffic lanes on their way to Cartago and the basilica there.The Cruz Roja reported Wednesday evening that its aid stations had treated 1,544 persons, mostly for muscle aches and individual medical problems. Some 26 persons suffered from sunburn and 38 suffered from some physical injury. The rescue crews had to take 27 persons to clinics or hospitals, the agency said. President Laura Chinchilla took the valley train line as far east as it would go and then hiked the remaining distance to the basilica where police cleared the interior so the president could have a little alone time with La Negrita, the nation’s patroness. Presumably Ms. Chinchilla was seeking strength to finish out the term of her rocky presidency.
Not everyone was bound to Cartago with religion on their minds. Police were out in force, and Fuerza Pública officers were handing out flyers with instructions for a safe hike. Officers also set up those steel frame watch towers along the route to spot the not-so-faithful.
The forecast called for stable weather with afternoon showers. That was the case Wednesday when thunder and lightning intruded on a hot and sticky day. By evening the skies cleared. A full moon came into view, and the cooler temperatures were perfect for the pilgrims.
The crush of pilgrims was so great that traffic police began detouring buses and trucks into alternate routes all along the way.
At the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in Cartago the evening was like a party with fireworks, musical groups and, of course, food and religious items.
Not everyone was in Cartago. Some will walk or otherwise arrive there this morning in time for the Roman Catholic Mass.
Off-duty police officers were to assemble at 7 a.m. in San Jose’s Barrio Córdoba near the security ministry and walk as units to the basilica some 24 kilometers (15 miles) away. They plan to arrive in time for Mass.
Bus company operators were standing by ready to put into effect the major transport effort of the year to return hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to their homes after the Mass.