Homer's Travels: Polaroid Mary

Monday, January 14, 2008

Polaroid Mary

On Sunday, following the excellent directions provided by a Homer's Travels visitor, the Wife, The "J", the "C", and I finally found Mary. An interesting day but not what I expected.

We left early Sunday morning and drove the two hours to Mojave where we stopped at Mike's Roadhouse Cafe and had Breakfast. We did this the last time we came out here and they even sat us down in the same table as before.

After some good food and conversation we got back on the road and drove the 15 - 20 minutes to California City. From there we followed the Twenty Mule Team Road out past the prison, past the large water tank on the left, past Borax Bill Park, and made a left on Lincoln by the misspelled Our Lady Of The Rock sign.

We arrived a little early but there were quite a few cars, RVs, and people already gathered. People were tailgating as the gathering was lead in choruses of Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and inspirational music. Some of the crowd had Polaroid cameras. Others were taking pictures of the sun with their cell phones. One man near us in the crowd had a half inch thick stack of Polaroids.

At Noon a path was cleared for the procession of the Cross and a statue of Mary carried by Maria Paula and her attendants. Maria Paula is the woman who claims to speak regularly with Mary. She and her attendants are dress in white nun habits which was a little unsettling the the Wife as Maria Paula is not a nun. The procession circled the small makeshift grotto. A group of dancers, all volunteers, did a folkloric dance reminiscent of the Aztec dances in Mexico.

After the dance, Maria Paula talked to the gathering. She spoke in Spanish and talked about the coming judgment, the importance of setting an example of a sin free life for our children, and talked about how she saw Mary during the precession. It was a little odd. One thing that surprised me is that a large portion of the group weren't really paying close attention to Maria Paula. She would ask a basic question about scripture and no one would respond. She would have to ask the question several times to get any response. Afterward she walked the perimeter of the gathering offering blessings.

The whole think as a little odd and not what I expected. I had expected a more devoted following from the group but it just seemed like more of a social gathering then a real religious experience. There were those in the crowd who did pray during the entire event and some did show true belief and devotion but they seem to me to be the minority. I also hoped to have Maria Paula point to the sky and have the entire crowd raise their Polaroids in unison followed by the click-whir of hundreds of cameras - it didn't happen. We did get some Polaroids of our own.

The saving grace is that there was very little solicitation of money. They did have a raffle and they sold small religious statues and pictures to raise funds for a more permanent chapel/grotto that could be seen being constructed nearby but they never passed the bucket around as you would expect. It cost us nothing to be there and all exchange of funds was voluntary. That was refreshing.

Now, I have noticed something. I'm not sure if it's a trend yet or not but it seems that when I go to do a religious thing, it is often followed by a geeky thing. The Rosary Bowl was done with a visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The LA Cathedral visit next month will be followed by the Mythbusters (More about that in another post), and this trip to Our Lady Of The Rock was no different. On the way home I noticed a car in front of us with a strange pole/antenna/camera mount (?) on the roof. As I got closer I noticed a Google sticker in his rear window. I suspect it was a GPS mapping car for Google Maps. I passed him and we could see that there was a large LCD screen next to the driver. He followed us into Ventura and, at a stop light, was right behind us. We rolled our window down and all waved like Dorks. In my rear view mirror I saw the driver smile and shake his head - I'm sure he sees that a lot. I should have taken a picture but I was too busy waving like a dork.

So there you have it, Mary to guide you spiritually and Google to guide you along the road. Pictures of the event are here.


  1. And again I can't look at the pictures (Flicker thing).

    Sounds like a good day though.

  2. Wow, a lot of these shots are absolutely fantastic. Ever thought about going into a career as a news photographer?

  3. JaG: It was interesting. Flickr has been acting up a lot lately - I think they are updating hardware or something.

    GH: Thank you. I am getting more and more into photography but I still have a way to go. This was my first real attempt at photographing people. Not an easy thing I found out.

  4. My favourite is the old lady with her head under the blanket.

  5. JaG: She was sitting right up front next to the grotto. She caught the Wife's eye and I took a couple pics.

  6. Great post! Thanks for putting the pics up. I was showing one of my friends at work. Thanks for a fun, if odd, road trip. Viva la google car!

    -The C

  7. "C": Glad you enjoyed it. I wish I had taken a picture of the Google Car.