100,000 People at Dawn (continued from p. 6)

"Calvario", the hill where Mary is said to have appeared. The last mile is bordered by hundreds of small stands, many selling miniatures of the objects which represent the dreams or miracles that people have walked here all night to wish for miniature cars, trucks, houses, and stacks of cash. One seller yells out, over and over again, "$50,000 for one Boliviano (the local currency equal to about 15 cents)!" For those seeking travel there are miniature suitcases and even tiny US passports. For those whose wishes are more humble there are miniature shovels, picks, and other tools.
With the objects of choice in hand, people climb the a long hill through a towering white arch and reach the church dedicated to the virgin, the entrance to which has hundreds of flower arrangements spread out like a carpet. While one set of priests

carry out an all-morning series of services inside, behind the chapel another set of priests and sisters tend to the never-ending line of people waiting to be blessed with a sprinkle of holy water on their head.
Beyond this buzzing beehive of traditional Catholic activity, lies the real objective of the day, the hill itself and the task of using a huge sledge hammer to pound a rock out of it, which must be carried back home and then returned the next year in order to fulfill the "please grant my wish" bargain with Mary. [By this time my teenage daughter Elizabeth, had run into some friends and ditched me and I had also gotten hopelessly separated from my own friends in the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd.].
Imagine a hillside, perhaps a quarter mile across, covered with 10 foot-deep pits filled with and surrounded by groups of people

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Volume 13, Issue 3

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