In November, I went on a five-day pilgrimage to Mexico with the NY Frassati Fellowship. The trip fell over my birthday weekend, which made for a great way to celebrate! I had wanted to visit the Basilica of Guadalupe for a long time, and I was able to go with a great group of people.
We left on a Saturday morning, with a direct flight from JFK to Mexico City. My trip to JFK ended up being a more epic journey than anticipated. When my roommate and I looked up directions, Google Maps told us that the trip to the airport, via public transportation, would take about 45 minutes from our apartment. It ended up taking over 2 hours due to multiple transfers and delays. When we finally got to the JFK Air Train, the train stalled coming into the station, and we had to wait even longer. We were worried about missing our flight! But we ended up making it just in the nick of time…with plenty of opportunities to offer up our impatience along the way ;)
The flight itself was awesome, as I was sitting between Father Gabriel and Catherine. Our row prayed the Liturgy of the Hours together before takeoff, and then once we were in the air, we were able to watch football on our personal TVs (while we were still in American airspace). Father Gabriel had the Florida game playing on his TV, and I had the Michigan State game on mine. The Notre Dame game didn’t start until around the time we landed, so I didn’t get to watch it, but I at least got a taste of a college football Saturday. Also, Father Gabriel is allergic to chocolate, which meant that I got his Kit-Kat bar—basically, it was an excellent flight.
We landed in Mexico City, made it through customs, and took a bus through traffic to get to our hotel, which was in a touristy neighborhood in the city. Our hotel was very old and very fancy—lots of famous people had stayed there. After we checked in, some of us wandered around the neighborhood looking for a snack. We found a cheap taco place down the road that was pretty great. I ordered a taco al pastor. I was able to talk to the servers mostly in Spanish, which was fun.
One of the things I learned over the course of this trip is just how rusty my Spanish is. I was able to communicate basic things, but the words used to come a lot easier a few years ago. If I ever take a longer trip to a Spanish-speaking country, I’ll have to brush up a little more. My brain would frequently revert to Italian, and saying “Grazie” isn’t all that helpful in Mexico.
We bought some bottled water to bring up to our hotel rooms to use for brushing our teeth (since you can’t drink the water) and got ready to head out for our Mass and Holy Hour. There was a church just a few minutes away from our hotel (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Sagrado Corazón) that had a 24-hour Adoration chapel available to the public, which was really great—it allowed people to stop by according to their own schedules, and it was really close. We went there for Mass the first night, which is the only Mass during the trip that I didn’t play music for. It was simple and quiet, a nice way to reflect on the start of our pilgrimage and prepare ourselves for our visit to the Basilica of Guadalupe the next day.
After Adoration was finished, we wandered back to the hotel for dinner. At that point we were all pretty exhausted—dinner didn’t start until 8pm. We had to meet to discuss the next day’s plans after dinner, and then we all went up to our rooms to crash before our busy day tomorrow.