loyola. finally!

11:55 AM

My butt was only too happy to get off the seat.
Having sat for the best part of the last 26 hours, it was such a relief to finally stand up again.

After dropping off the American, Italian, and Spanish groups at the basilica, the bus driver took us to a nearby convent.

We finally arrived at Loyola, located in Spain's Basque country, the hometown of St. Ignatius and starting point of our Jornada Mundial de la Juventud Madrid 2011 (World Youth Day) experience. San Ignacio (as he is called in Spain) was the founder of the Jesuit order, the ones who established and to this day still run the Ateneo de Manila University. St. Ignatius also happened to be one of the 2011 World Youth Day’s patron saints. So it was just fitting for the young pilgrims under the Jesuits to converge at the basilica before setting out for their immersion, and eventually, the JMJ celebration in Madrid.

After dragging our luggage from the bus to what might have been a receiving room, the sisters welcomed us with sunny smiles and open arms but firmly established the house rules. Better to have things clear, they said, as we would be sharing the convent with other pilgrims from countries like France, Lebanon, and Venezuela.

After settling in, we then headed to the Basilica to register and claim our JMJ packs which to our surprise included the following:

1. JMJ backpack
2. JMJ shirt
3. Mag+s handbook
4. Two Mag+s shirts
5. Mag+s hoodie
6. a bottle of beverage (which I suspected to be alcoholic)

Around us, there was an undeniable and contagious feeling of excitement and joy. Friends, or at least people who know each other, greet with the warmest of hugs. Groups chat up the ones next to them, breaking the ice with the all too common “So, where do you guys come from?” While some, just happy to receive their JMJ packs, inspect their loot and don their hoodies.

We were more of the latter and just too eager to have our group photo taken. A couple of shots later and quite famished, we fished out our meal stub. Much to our surprise and disbelief, we learn that we’d be served supper at 20:45 and not a minute earlier. That meant, we had to wait about two more hours! Apparently, the mess hall wasn’t large enough to accommodate everybody in one sitting so we had to be served in batches. (And the Spanish really do eat their supper late in the evening!) I forget exactly what we had but what I do remember is that it was our first encounter with the ever-present crusty bread. The Spanish have it with their every meal.

After supper, we all gathered on the grounds for the welcome remarks. It was a cool summer night and we were only too glad to sit on the grass and try to stay up as long as we can. But come about ten-thirty in the evening, perhaps due to sheer exhaustion, I sneaked back to the convent and hit the sack.

'am i really spain?'

our first home in spain, a convent in the town of loyola

basilica de san ignacio de loyola

queuing at the registration desk

pilgirms trying out their shirts and getting to know each other 

 nicolas from mauritius traded his small hoodie for my big one

asked Patricia from USA to take our photo

ateneo mag+s group hamming it up for the camera 

'who? me?' [olats is filipino slang for loser.]

 gonzalvo from portugal was eating all alone at the next table. so we invited him over to ours!

participants from portugal flapped meters and meters of fabric trying to interpret the process of discernment

this bottle was included in our JMJ pack. encouraging the youth of the world to drink?

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