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Guatemala’s motorcycle pilgrimage rumbles back to life

Guatemala City, Feb 4 (EFE).- Some 30,000 bikers gathered Saturday in the Guatemalan capital for the first post-pandemic edition of La Caravana del Zorro (The Caravan of the Fox), the world’s largest motorcycle pilgrimage.

The destination is the Basilica of the Black Christ in Esquipulas, 240 km (149 mi) from Guatemala City, the most-visited Catholic shrine in the region extending from southern Mexico to the northern tip of South America.

Carved from a dark piece of wood, the Black Christ has been credited with miracles and Pope John Paul II visited Esquipulas in 1996 to mark the 400th anniversary of the church.

The motorcyclists came together Saturday in Constitution Square to hear the Rev. Jose Luis Colmenares of the Metropolitan Cathedral say a prayer for their safety.

Founded 62 years ago by the late Ruben “El Zorro” Villadeleon, the event is now led by his son, Eddy.

“This caravan is important to me because I have met many friends on the road and it has left me with good experiences,” Marta Peña told EFE.

Marta is among a group of women taking part in the pilgrimage for the ninth time.

On this occasion, the theme of the caravan is “to thank God for being able to return to riding our motorcycles after two years of pandemic,” Eddy Villadeleon told reporters.

For participants such as Luis Lam, accompanied by his 8-year-old son, the caravan is a family affair.

“I traveled five years with my brothers and it’s a very beautiful pilgrimage to reach Esquipulas,” Luis told EFE while carrying out a final check of his machine at the departure point.

Other riders dress up in costumes to entertain the crowds that line the route.

Authorities urge the riders to obey all traffic laws in the interests of “a party without regrettable incidents” and the caravan has a police escort.

The police work with the volunteer firefighter brigades along the route to provide medical attention to anyone who needs it.

EFE dte/dr

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