I didn’t expect to see God when I got off the bus, but I definitely felt something supernatural in the air. The tour group was mostly white Americans, though a few of us were Hispanic and black.
As the tour guide led us through the throng of worshipers in the plaza to the front door of the Basilica, I gazed in awe at the architectural beauty of both, the modern church and the older one across the street. We later learned that even the older building was not the original as it too, had replaced the first church, the initial home for the serape worn by Juan Diego when he was visited by the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531.
We were led like sheep through the crowd, but I didn’t mind it so much as we received preferential treatment in entering the holy sanctuary. I was first struck by the immensity of the structure, high ceilings over two stories tall, massive columns supporting the roof. The inside air was scented with incense and burning candles. As we approached a moving sidewalk, I saw a thin veil of smoke snake upward.
My camera was at the ready when I stepped on the moving platform. As the group passed in front of the sacred robe with the image of the Virgin before us, I began snapping photos. A bullet-proof plate of glass protected the robe, but the uniqueness of the image was still evident, with bright colors and striking clarity even after 500 years of exposure to the elements.
I probably wasn’t alone when I stood directly in front of the Virgin and felt a sudden rush of adrenaline shoot through my veins. If it hadn’t been for the moving sidewalk, I may have stood there for a much longer time.
As our group exited the air-conditioned building, the searing Mexican heat slapped us in the face. The heat didn’t bother me. What I had just witnessed was reputed to be a product created by something other than human hands.
A woman with no legs tugged on my tropical shirt. She spoke a few words, which I didn’t understand. I reached for my wallet which I had put in my rear pocket, but to my dismay, it was not there. I tried to mentally retrace my steps to determine where and when I might have dropped it. But nothing came to mind.
As we boarded the bus, the driver greeted at me with a smile. “How was it, Senor?”
“Just like the brochure said, ‘Amazing’ except for one little thing,” I answered.
“So why the sad face?”
“I lost my wallet and all my money and identification was in there.”
The driver reached around to a small cubicle in the dashboard of the bus, then held out his hand. “Is this your wallet?”
To my surprise, my wallet was intact and all my vacation money was still there.
“Where did you find it?”
The driver merely shrugged. “I didn’t. An old woman with no legs brought it to me while you were in the Basilica.”
Immediately I knew who the mystery woman had been. It was the woman who had tugged on my shirt. I tapped the driver on the shoulder. “I’ll be right back. Don’t leave without me, okay?”
He nodded as I climbed off the bus. I searched and searched but never found the woman to give her my thanks. To this day, I wonder who that woman was and whether I will ever get the opportunity to give her my thanks.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael M. Pacheco
I am an aspiring writer polishing my fourth work of fiction. My most recent release is a collection of short stories titled OF ANGELS, DEMONS AND CHOPPED CHORIZO. In January 2014, I was short-listed for the JF Powers Prize in Short Fiction.
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