Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Pélerinage Gitan des Saintes Maries

We all hopped in our little white car, her name is Angelina, and started our journey to the south of France, it was 5:00am. We stopped in a beautiful village and had a breakfast picnic by a beautiful little waterfall and after a quaint little slug filled forrest stroll we continued on our way. We had plans to stop for lunch but the kids both fell asleep so we booked it all the way. We almost ran out of gas, but eventually we made it to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. We checked into our campsite, ate our picnic lunch (for dinner), discovered the beach a bit and called it a night. We came for the big pilgrimage where Roma, Roms, Manouches, Tziganes, Ges du Voyages and other 'gypsies' come from all over to worship Saint Sara. We fell asleep that night to the sound of guitar and rhythmic clapping, we were all completely exhausted. The next day we went to visit Saint Sara, the patron saint of the Roma people, in the crypt below the church and we also perused the festival market that was filled with frilly dresses, sparkly shoes and cookware. The following day was the first day of the pilgrimage, Dan went out early in the morning to catch the mass, hang out with some of the big boss organizers and some bikers-you know the usual. I stayed back at the campsite and the kids played with the neighbours and then we all headed down to the church for the procession. Luckily we ran into some people Dan knew so it was a tad less daunting amongst the mass of people. It was a beautiful procession led by the Guardians (cowboys of the Camargue) on white horses followed by the statue of Saint Sara adorned in beautiful fabric carried by a group of pilgrims all the way down to the sea. There were so many people all around us that we did not even notice we had reached the water until a lady in front of us shrieked that the water was cold! We followed the procession back to the church, with the bells ringing, people singing, music playing it was all pretty incredible. The kids were great, hung out on our shoulders the entire time... Elijah loved seeing Saint Sara and Gavin adored all the guitar music (he actually does a little air guitar performance that is pretty awesome). We returned to our campsite with the intention of staying up to celebrate a bit, but again we just fell asleep to the sound of the amazing music. Well can you blame us, we had to do it all again the next day...which will be my next post.

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