I’m still sorting and organizing pictures from my recent pilgrimage. Since we visited a number of churches, chapels, cathedrals and basilicas, many of my photos are of the beautiful artwork and architecture in each of them. Other photos are from different cultural and historical sites and activities – the Palace of Fine Arts, where we saw the stunning Folkloric Ballet of Mexico; the Museum of Anthropology; the site of what is believed to be the largest pyramid in the world, where we said prayers of intentions on each of the steps leading to the church at the top. And, of course, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe – which was the main destination of the pilgrimage.

I also have photos of some of the mouthwatering meals and desserts I enjoyed, and video clips of some of the mariachi bands and other lively music and entertainment we experienced.

Some of my favorite photos are the ones that include other people, especially children. In one, a little boy ran up to touch a huge, bronze sculpture just as I was about to take a picture of it. The boy’s mother said something to him that I – with my limited knowledge of Spanish – couldn’t understand, but I’m pretty sure she was telling him to move away while the lady was taking a picture. I was sorry that I wasn’t fluent enough in Spanish to be able to tell her that it was fine, and that my photo was even more precious with her young son reaching up to touch the sculpture, and looking up at it in awe and admiration.

I was surprised, at first, that we were allowed to take photos at all in most of the places we visited. In the few where photography was not allowed, I kept reaching for my camera instinctively, but then focusing – no pun intended – on just capturing the images in my mind, knowing that this was all I would have to remember them by. I found myself getting more fully immersed in the experience of just being there. And I decided I’d like to come back someday and do the same pilgrimage, but without a camera or recording device of any kind. I would just enjoy taking it all in, in the moment.

I’m happy that I do have the photos from my trip, so I can revisit and remember all the details that would probably otherwise soon fade away, and so I can share the experiences and the memories with others. As I sort and select the photos that mean the most to me, and that I think others would most enjoy seeing, I get to relive the trip all over again. And I get to share it with my family and friends – which, in my opinion, is the best part of any journey.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on March 10, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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