The Pilgramage to Marienfield

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Now today really tested my willpower, strength, and spirit.
We got up at around 7am to have breakfast with the family before leaving. They had prepared a huge German breakfast for us and everyone was up and waiting to say goodbye. Coffee, tea, rye bread, jam, cheese, a hard boiled egg, buns, and orange juice. After eating and chatting a bit about what was going to happen over the next few days, we packed up our stuff and said our goodbyes. We walked to the church (only about 2 min walk) just in time for the farewell mass to start. Most of the mass was said in German, with the homily said in english. Let me tell you, it is weird listening to a mass in another language. At the end of the mass, the priest is talking, making anouncements and wrapping up the mass, and all of a sudden half of the congregation starts laughting because he just cracked a joke…but we weren’t in on it; it’s just weird. Ross: you know how we were saying that Catholics sound like The Borg when they are saying the Our Father…? Well Germans sound like it even more! I wish I had the guts to pull out my pocket pc and record it.
Anyways, after mass we gathered up our stuff and took a bus to the Wuppetal Hauptbahnhof (train station) where we would catch a train to the town where our pilgramage started. The train ride was long, I was tired, and to be honnest, the Americans in the same car as us were really annoying. It was hilarious when Andrea was talking to one of them and asked if they would like to have a Canada pin; the guy said “yes, yes, I’d love one”, then Andrea replied, “Well…I don’t think so!” I was just really funny…she shut him down big time. Even the other Americans were laughing. Of course, we still gave them some pins.
When the train arrived at its location to drop us off (about 2.5 hours later), we grabbed our bags and started our 6.5 km pilgramage to Marienfield where we would have a vigil that night, sleep in the field, and go to World Youth Day mass the next day. Peter, Rachael, Elizabeth, and myself were carrying ALL of our stuff because we had to leave for the airport the next day and didn’t have time to go back to get our stuff. I think Pete and I had it the worst, but the girls also had a rough time. This is where I my strength was tested; my pack was the heaviest weighing in at about 85 pounds, and Pete just behind me with about 77 pounds. Let me tell you, it was a marathon! Pete and I were really hurting. It was the longest 6.5 km that I’ve ever walked.
When we arrived at the field and went to our designated area where we were to sit, we found that the entire section was full. Therefore, we had to move to the ‘visitor’ location where no one would be until the next day. There was a huge screen with a live video feed that we got to watch, so it was as if we were right up front. The good thing was that there was plenty of room for us to set up our tents; tents, by the way, are not allowed in the main ‘pilgrims’ area in order to fit more people per section. We were the rebelious Canadians whome everyone was jealous of during the night when it got cold and damp. We had a little tent city going on in the middle of 30,000 people on their foamies (just in our block). We were pretty decked out with all our camping gear from MEC.
After we were set up, we had some time to go and trade our Canadian paraphanalia. I decided that I wanted an Italian hat, and I figured that since there were over 100,000 Italians at world youth day, I’d have no problem getting one. It was actually pretty hard…they either didn’t want to give it up, or wanted everything I had for trade. But, eventually I found someone who was willing to trade it for my t-shirt. I also got a chance to talk with some people from Switzerland who didn’t speak English, but knew french. It was pretty cool to have a conversation with them and be able to understand them. In the end about 4 of us managed to get our hands on the Italian hats.
The vigil started late in the night and didn’t finish until about 11pm. Most of us were pretty tired, so we sat around for a bit and told a few stories and then went to bed. I told a scary story called “The Viper”. If I haven’t told it to you before, let me know. We were all pretty beat though, so it was a relief to go to our tents and crash.

I’ll go and find some pictures soon and post them. I’m sure I have a few good ones and I’m due for posting some of them.

Coming home this Saturday,