Plan to protect pilgrims goes into effect today

Initial traffic control for the annual pilgrimage to Cartago goes into effect today at 2 p.m.

The  Policía de Tránsito said its officers were expecting a lot of activity this weekend because of the way the weekends fell this year.

Some 261 traffic officers, 41 cadets and 10 inspectors will be on the job Aug. 1 and 2, the agency said.  The initial emphasis starting today will be from Curridabat to Wal-mart in the east, said the agency.

The biggest flow of pilgrims from the west to Cartago and the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles will be a week from today when police said officers would close the main highway from San Pedro.

Expats generally figure that any travel in the eastern part of San José and in the Cartago area will be a lost cause that weekend. Police will have a perimeter set up around Cartago where cars are not permitted. Main highways in all directions will be restricted.

Expats who have not witnessed the flood of pilgrims might not realize the magnitude. The crowd is equivalent to that at the end of a game at a major league baseball or professional football, except that it never ends.

In the afternoon and evening of Aug. 1 an expat will find walking west on the pedestrian mall in San José downtown difficult because the crowd going theother way will be so great.

The most recent estimate is that 2 million will walk from all points of the country and beyond.

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