Argentine family on road trip to see pope in Philadelphia
They packed their bags and embarked on a months-long adventure through the Americas in a Volkswagen van they dubbed Francisca.
The final destination? Philadelphia, so they can see Pope Francis there in late September.
Catire Walker, 41, and his wife, Noel Zemborain, piled their four kids into the van in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in March. After passing through South America and Central America, they reached Mexico on their long journey to see the pope at the Festival of Families. They prepared to depart from Mexico City on Saturday.
“The essence of this is to make a family trip and, well, the festival gives a deeper purpose and a goal, but it’s a family trip,” said the 39-year-old mother, who works in communications and marketing. The family has documented their journey through a Twitter account, on Facebook and with a blog.
“Our trip is a lot like a trip of discovery,” she told The Associated Press by phone from Mexico. “We’re staying in families’ homes, we’re meeting people in the different places we pass through, sharing with them and the Festival of Families has a bit of the same spirit.”
In spite of occasional car trouble, torrential rains and sometimes not having a place to sleep, the couple said strangers repeatedly have opened their doors to them, including in Mexico. To finance the trip, they used their savings and raised money on a crowdfunding site.
They recently spent two nights in the home of Gustavo Martinez in Puebla, Mexico. He made the offer after hearing about their trip through a Catholic news service and reading their blog.
“As a Catholic, I like to meet people in whom faith is something living, like a motor,” said Martinez, who teaches Italian at the Michelangelo Academy and is a philosophy professor at the Popular Autonomous University of Puebla state. “When I saw the blog I thought it would be an enormous treasure to meet them. If I can provide a grain of sand to help them along the way, even better.”
Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 22. He’ll visit New York before spending two days in Philadelphia.