(QCostarica) In about two weeks, thousands in Costa Rica will be walking to Cartago, taking part in the annual pilgrimage to the Virgen de los Ángeles, known as “romeria” that places place on August 1 & 2. For some it’s a tradition, for others it is a question of faith.
This year, however, the “romeros” are being asked to include facemasks as part of the gear for the walk.
Volcanologist Javier Pacheco, of the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica (Ovsicori), recommends the masks given the recent eruptions of the Turrialba volcano, whose ashes have reached areas of La Union, Tejar, San Pedro and Coronado in San Jose. And the area around Basilica de Los Angeles, the area of major congregation of pilgrims.
“You never know if the wind can blow to the southwest and the ashes and gases will spread over Cartago as it happened days ago. If the case of not carrying a facemask, people can use a cloth dampened with water,” said Pacheco.
According to the Ovsicori, the latest blowout of the colossus occurred at 6:42am Sunday, spewing out a steady stream of gases and ash.
The experts say the emanations have become more frequent and variable in volume.
According to Mauricio Mora, volcanologist at the Red Sismológica Nacional (RSN), on Saturday at 3:30pm and on Sunday at 3:00am were episodes that spread ash in Santa Cruz centre, Turrialba and Cascajal de Coronado.
Both experts say the fall of ash is dependant on the prevailing winds at the time of the eruption.
The “Dia de la Virgen de los Angeles” is one the most important Catholic holidays in our country, a day when Costa Ricans pay homage to the La Negrita, the patron saint of Costa Rica.
Though some walks hundreds of kilometres (literally) to reach the Basilica, modern day romeros take some form of transportation and then walk the last couple of kilometres to Cartago.
Over the years, up to 2 million people reached Cartago, according to numbers reported by the Catholic Church. The numbers today are much less, estimates are now less than 1 million.