(qCOSTARICA) Today is the BIG day in Costa Rica, as thousands on thousands make the annual walk to Cartago known as the “romeria”. For some it’s a tradition, for others it is a question of faith.
Unlike previous years, officials at the Basilica de los Angeles are no longer providing estimates of the number of people naking the romeria, to visit the Patron Saint in Costa Rica, La Virgen de Los Angeles.
In 2012 the number was more than two million.
Ensuring a safe romeria, hundreds of uniformed police (national and local) and traffic officials will on hand, in addition to the hundreds of workers of the Cruz Roja (Red Cross), that include paramedics, providing first aid to all that need.
Also on hand are at least 25 officials of the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia (PANI) – the child welfare agency – who say on average 20 children get lost in the annual massive event. The officials are mobilized in various point along the route, mainly between San Pedro, the east side of San Jose and Cartago.
PANI officials say most are children separated from their parents or group of friends. Fanny Cordero, spokesperson for the PANI, said the officials will be fully identified, wearing shirts with the institution’s name and asks people to call 9-1-1 in the event their child is missing or find a child wandering around alone.
Cordero added that the PANI offices, located on the southeast corner of the Courts in San Jose, will be open 24hrs.
Though the majority of “romeros” that take part in the pilgrimage do so on foot, some would prefer to ride their bicycle. Not a good idea.
The director of the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police), Mario Calderon, said that bicycles on the route will be confiscated.
“We want to avoid risks, a situation that could trigger something serious,” said Calderon. The police chief added that bicycles are prohibited on the roads that have speeds of up to 90 km/h, such as autopistas like the Florencio del Castillo (San Jose – Cartago).
Although Cartago has a bike path, this weekend it will be for people on foot.
Calderon added that the use of wheel chairs, roller skates or roller blades are OK, but, NO to skateboards.
If you travelling through the east side of San Jose, ie. San Pedro, Zapote, Curridabat, Tres Rios and Cartago, bear in mind the number of vehicular restrictions, road blocks and closures.
The public transport system will be running at full. The Lumaca transport (San Jose – Cartago concessionaire) has added more units and will be running extra hours. The commuter train between San Pedro and Cartago will be running this weekend. (The commuter train runs only weekday mornings and afternoons).
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