Also known as: Hola, Madrid and JMJ!
Translation: World Youth Day (WYD Chronicles, Part 1 of 4) — I know the title is redundant, but let me be :P
Warning: Photo dump ahead. :D
So the weeks leading to our flight to Madrid was really kind of busy. Okay, that was an understatement – it was busy. Seeing that we only had our visa a month before we had to leave, and my ticket was booked three weeks before I had to leave, and I also got sick two weeks before I had to fly…it was crazy. It was a good kind of crazy, though, even if I had to remind myself every time I feel stressed that it’s all good ((Besides, I get asthma wheezes when I get stressed, so stress was a no-no)).
The other, excited part of me couldn’t believe that I was actually almost about to leave. I mean, I only dreamed of this at the start of the year. Now that it was almost a reality, that part of me couldn’t help but be amazed at it. Truth be told, it was almost like the month of August was nonexistent, because I had no idea what to expect during the second half that I would be spending in Europe.
But enough of that. The days leading to the flight was kind of a whirlwind — with meetings (finally meeting other delegates and sort-of finalizing our itinerary for the second week of the trip), work stuff, dinner, send-off stuff and shopping. When Sunday night finally rolled around, I was so wound up with anticipation that I could hardly sleep!
Then came the long wait at the airport before the flight. I was there extra early because our car’s plate number was part of the coding, but I didn’t mind. I was excited and nervous because again, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Especially that I have been out of community for so long and everyone I was with for the next two weeks were all so active.
But like what they said before the trip: empty yourself out and God will fill you in the next few days. Why not, right?
There wasn’t really much to say about the flight because it was…well, long. It was my first time to fly for more than 4 hours, so I entertained myself with movies and my Kindle and took pictures of clouds, like this:
Too bad I always seem to get the wing seats.
But anyway. We arrived at Amsterdam about 12 hours later — it was 7:00pm in Europe, but it was bright as day. Talk about jarring my body clock.
We got on our connecting flight to Madrid an hour later — me and Mitch — while the rest of the team stayed in Amsterdam for the night. Four hours later, we got to Madrid, and our SFC hosts picked us up in the airport. We got settled in, ate breakfast at midnight (because it was already 6:00am in Manila) and finally, finally settled to sleep. After all, World Youth Day officially starts tomorrow — and we need to keep our energies up by then.
The next day.
Mitch and I woke up all rested and hungry on our second day in Madrid. After scrounging for breakfast in our host’s kitchen, our host mom arrived and started fussing over us. :) It was nice, to meet with a mom while we were there. It made me feel less homesick. She served us some local fruits that we were more than happy to eat. :)
Later on, our third housemate, Cienna, arrived and we ate again. :) It was a full lunch, and it was Filipino food to boot! Yum. I’ve only been in Europe for less than 24 hours and all I’ve been doing was eating! Haha.
afternoon early evening — when the heat of the sun wasn’t that bad — we headed over to the CFC Center to meet with our delegation who arrived a few hours ago from Amsterdam. They were, unfortunately, tired and hungry and a teensy bit cranky, and we learned that our pilgrim backpacks weren’t there yet and our delegation heads were having some problems getting it all for us. Mitch and I felt a bit bad that we weren’t able to get it for the team since we arrived there earlier, but it wasn’t like we can do anything about it since we don’t have the papers to get the kits.
It seemed like we would be missing the first World Youth Day activity, the opening mass, because we couldn’t get there without our pilgrim IDs. We were able to catch the start of it on TV, but we wanted to be there since, well, we’re already there! So we decided to try to head over to where the mass was being celebrated. We may not be able to join the mass, but the least we could do was hear it.
Then came the fun part. Armed with Philippine flags, food, drinks and our camera, we rode the train to the still unfamiliar streets of Madrid, and found ourselves at Gran Via (which eventually became our meeting point for the next few days). There we found ourselves surrounded by pilgrims everywhere. It was like a big…well, party! :)
During the meeting they told us that we shouldn’t be surprised when people are extra friendly during WYD. Pilgrims from all parts of the world will say hi to you, exchange tokens with you, ask you to sign things and take pictures with you. It’s true. It’s like I could smile at everyone and not be afraid of being given a confused look or of being sneered at. The fun part was finding other Filipinos who would see our flag or we would see their flags, and we’d have photos taken with them, too.
A little while later, our delegation heads finally returned with our pilgrim packs, and we had a late, late free dinner thanks to our registration fee care of Burger King. We looked like really tired kids eating by the side of the road, and I’m pretty sure everyone else wants to just fall asleep on the ground. But even so, my heart was just positively thrilled. If this was how World Youth Day will be for the rest of the week, then I am so excited and ready for the next days. :)
Thanks to CJ and Ayana for some of the photos. :)