Monday, February 11, 2013
Once we arrived and set up camp a guy from one of the previous campsites walked over and mentioned that there was a pilgrimage on and it may be busy on the Saturday. We were planning to move on the Saturday so with this in mind we decided to stay and see what was going on.
This western cowboy film I had in my head was coming to life... The town was rammed with people all rinding horseback or mules pulling carts. On the Friday it rained and rained so the sandy roads were more dirt tracks. As soon as you enter El Rocio all road rules seem to go out the window and it's every man for himself. It works but its mental. You will have some people who will bimble along but you also have people who get in their car and put their foot to the floor. Throw a couple of hundred horses into the equation and it gets a lot worse. With not much going on in town apart from people arriving we went back home and got dry.
Saturday the sun finally came out. It was a nice change as it had been raining since we left La Garrofa. With the Pilgrimage happening on the Saturday we thought we should try and make it in early so we didn't miss anything happening. We left the tent at 11.30 which isn't really that early. The town population had at least tripled. The squares were rammed and horses were everywhere. It was kind of scary as horses aren't small so when one appears behind you its quite a shock .
As we were leaving the next day I decided I should go in and see if the town was as mental during the night as it was in the day. My answer is yes. Its even more mental when everyone is under the influence. From what we could see the pilgrimage is just an excuse to get on the beers. There was even one happening the weekend after just down the road.
It also turns out that this was a very small pilgrimage as in May nearly a million people turn up for the Romería de El Rocío