If this is the year you’ve decided to lace up your sneakers and follow Costa Rica’s Catholic faithful on the march to Cartago, you won’t be alone.
This year, 2 million people are expected to make the Aug. 2 pilgrimage. Most will leave on Sunday, but some are already on their way, walking, riding horses, biking and crawling from points as far away as Guanacaste and Panama.
If you do decide to join the mass of romeros (or pilgrims), it’s best to heed the advice of veteran marchers, as the day can be a mix of pain and inconvenience for those who are not prepared.
Forty-eight-year-old Any Vargas, who has made the trip five times from her home in San Pedro, advises walkers to wear shoes that have been broken in and carry plenty of water.
“I wouldn’t do it if you are not in good physical condition,” she said. “It can be very difficult.”
Though people along the route offer food and water and some open their homes and bathrooms to walkers, it’s always a good idea to bring some food yourself, said Ana Isabel Ureña, as she emerged from a church in San Pedro on Wednesday morning.
Also, don’t forget a sweater, said the seven-time romera, as you’ll be walking through the mountains into the cool Cartago night.
For more on this story, see the July 30 print or digital edition of The Tico Times