El Rocio, the sandy town

Trip Start Apr 01, 2012
Trip End Oct 01, 2012

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Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cool night last night, had to pull the doona up and keep warm. By the time we were ready to be on our way again it was nice and warm. We are travelling across to Portugal now and took the main road to El Rocio. Why  did we pick this place you may well ask, well it was in the campsite book and it did not matter very much because it was only an overnight stop on our way to Lisbon. What a surprise was in store for us.
El Rocio is a strange outpost of the Wild West with wide, sandy streets lined with houses complete with broad verandas and wooden ,sometimes metal rails for tying up horses.
El Ricio stages a pilgramage yearly which is held on the 15th day after Easter Sunday, attracting nearly a million people from across Andalucia and beyond. The rest of the year it is a veritable ghost town, its streets almost eerily deserted except for tourists like us. The town has a cult status which is the most important and colourful status in the area. This cult dates back to the 13th century when a hunter from the village of Almonte discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary in a tree trunk. A chapel was built where the tree stood and it became a place of pilgramage. Unique in its own way, the town does not have any sealed roads, only sand tracks. Pretty wide as well with lots of soft sand to cope with. It is now not allowed to change these roads for historic reasons. Good in a way, it seems like there are no road rules but then again there are not a lot of people about. The local bar has special high tables, these are used for the horsemen who come to have a drink but do not wish to dismount their horses.
It is a eerie feeling walking along these roads as well. The few inhabitants are very friendly and helped us find the supermarket. Everybody walks and when you walk along the main road you are required to wear a safety vest. It is very hard to describe the feeling you get when you walk through the town but it was a pleasure to visit. Hard  to imagine those streets so packed with people so that you cannot move, would love to see it then.
The park is also very sandy but very nice indeed. Nice facilities and Rick has just informed me that the showers are hot. That makes it all perfect.
A nice day today, unusual but very rewarding.

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