We slept really good last night and were ready for our climb up the mountain to Los Pinos. We didn’t shower, since it was warm and we knew we were going to sweat. I ran down and got a pot of coffee and, after wiring up, we grabbed a couple walking sticks and headed out. We stopped at the Village Church first to see Our Lady and Pray our Morning Prayers.
We walked through the village to the path to Los Pinos. Every time we begin our path up the rocky gorge, we remember our first visit to Garabandal in 2007 when we made our climb in the pouring rain and the water was gushing over our feet … we don’t know how we made it that year since it is a difficult climb without rain. Now we are 8 years older so maybe the tough climb has something to do with it.
We Prayed the Stations of the Cross, as always, on our way up and stopped at the Shrine to St. Michael the Archangel (this is always a good place to “take a breather”). Susan disappeared behind the Shrine to rid herself of the turtleneck she had worn, thinking it might be cold up there. We decided it would become our “towel” because it was getting very hot during our climb.
We met “Roberto” on the way up … a new friend and a young man from Mexico who lives in Holland now. Roberto pointed out the new “easier” path when he first met us … do we look that “old”? We told him that we always take the aggressive path in honor of Our Lady. We spoke for a short time and continued our climb.
Reaching Los Pinos is always a thrilling moment for both of us. This is a very special, spiritual and Prayerful place … you can feel it all around you. We finished the last Station of the Cross directly in front of the Pine Tree where Our Lady appeared numerous times to the four visionaries. There were a couple of women up at the Pines Praying their Rosary … probably 15-20 years older than us. They had taken the “easy path” up, but we give them credit because they still made the climb. They left when we finished our last Station to give us our private time at Los Pinos. We told them to stay but they had to get back to the village.
We Prayed our Rosary on the bench in front of Our Lady’s Shrine realizing that, unfortunately, we were not going to be able to make it up the Rosary Path this year as we did on our last visit here. Our hearts said “yes” but my knees and our feet said “no”.
Before we left Los Pinos, Susan was requesting a “pine cone” to take home with us for our little “Shrine”. Listening to her request, I tried to whack one out of the tree and almost broke my walking stick. With no success, I decided Our Mother did not want me to take one so I quickly went over to St. Michael to ask him to pray for me for forgiveness (LOL).
After an hour up at Los Pinos, we headed back down to the Village via what we call the “Saint Padre Pio Path” which is the long way down via a very narrow road that will allow some small vehicles to drive up to the Pines. This path is a very peaceful return to reality with a beautiful and scenic walk and views of Garabandal and the mountain ranges.
On our way down, I spotted an elderly woman making her way back home down another path. She had a bag in her hand. I realized it was garbage after she stopped and threw it into the woods … I caught her red-handed with a photo (see lady with the blue hat).
Once we reached Garabandal, we stopped at the fountain. The first time we visited here, I told Susan that one side was hot water and the other cold water … she is so trusting that she had believed me. So each time we are there, I try to test it again to see if she is still gullible … LOL.
We were in time for lunch back at Sari & Papa’s, but we had not made arrangements with them so we accepted the fact that we had planned to fast for the day, went up to our room to shower (we knew we would need it after Los Pinos) and then went down to the Salon at our Posada to get caught up on Trip Reports done which wasn’t easy with our stomach’s growling but we survived.
As we were working in the Salon, we heard loud thunder so we went out to see what was going on. There was a tremendous hail storm going on. The weather can really change quick here!
By the time we were finished and ready to attend Mass at 7:30 P.M., the storm had cleared. We left early for Mass so that we could stop at the new Garabandal Foundation Center where we met our new friend, “Michael” … an American from Philadelphia who moved to Garabandal to work at the Foundation. He told us that he had never been to Garabandal, but that, one day, on November 22, 2014, he got a “calling” from Our Blessed Mother that he should move here. He sold everything (his family thought he was nuts) and he arrived at Garabandal on December 8th … the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I think he told us that he was in the Seminary for a while and was floundering with his life decisions, not knowing what to do. He seemed to be enormously happy and content being here in Garabandal. My gut feeling is that Michael will be in Garabandal for a long, long time. He is a tremendous young man and we feel Blessed to have met him and shared time with him.
It was time for Mass so we all left the Foundation together to walk across to the Church. Father Rolando began Mass with a very long dissertation which, for some reason, I understood him to be telling everyone that there was not going to be the usual offering of Special Intentions today because he had done it yesterday when we arrived in Garabandal. He also explained that if they looked in the Petition Box, they would see pages and pages of Special Intentions in English that we had delivered to Our Lady in Garabandal.
During Mass, Padre Rolando offered the Opening Prayer and the Sign of Peace to the Congregation in Spanish and then to Susan and I, in English, as he had done the day before. Tonight, we also surprised us with a special treat … unbeknownst to us, he had arranged for Michael to get up after the First Reading in Spanish (which was very long) and Michael re-read it to the Congregation (for us) in English. No one seemed to mind, not even us (although we had pre-printed all of the Readings for every day of our pilgrimage.)
When Mass concluded, we went in to the Sacristy to than Padre Rolando and he pulled out this very, very old and special Cross with our Crucified Lord on it and allowed us to venerate it after he did. This Cross was kissed by Our Blessed Mother here in Garabandal over 50 years ago … how special is that? Father then gave us a “bath” in Holy Water (I tried to tell him that we had already showered … LOL). And he Prayed a very Special Blessing over us … just incredible to both of us. A lot of hugs and kisses later, we left Padre (stomach’s still growling) and headed back to Sari & Papa’s for dinner.
As we entered the dining salon, we were pleasantly surprised to see that Michael and Barry (whom we met yesterday at lunch) were seated at our dinner table. The food began to come out. Michael Prayed Grace.
No one spoke for a while as we chowed down … I guess we were all famished. After our stomachs quit growling, we all began what turned out to be wonderful conversations. We got on the subject of The Mystical City of God. Michael told us he had the books back in Philadelphia, but had never read it. He had a lot of questions about it which I gladly answered and shared my thoughts.
Another table of eight came in for dinner around 9:30 P.M. The four of us continued to sit and chatted for another 30-40 minutes until it was time to go to bed. Michael told us that he would open the Foundation Center early for us in the morning after Mass and we all bid each other farewell for the evening. On the way to our room, Susan and I stopped to talk to the people at the other table. A few of them spoke English and they told us that they were from Madrid and were visiting Garabandal until Sunday. They told us that they saw us at Mass and they confirmed what Father Rolando had said at Mass. We shared a few laughs and left to retire after a long and beautiful day.