Every year at Whitsun, more than one million people set out on horseback and on foot on a pilgrimage to the village of El Rocío that lasts several days.
In the middle of the Andalusian desert, with temperature around 45 degrees, people start to dance with joy. Later sherry is served and the caravan continues.
Like nomads, the pilgrims sleep in the open air and sing about hardship, love and death. Old and young, fat and slim, poor and rich unite in the grip of music.
It's a journey with a lot of sacrifices, dancing and singing. Everything comes together on this walk: faith, love, happiness, hope, simply the whole of life.
Oxen are pulling the silver cart through the dune sand to the rhythm of singing bells, and the caravan of pilgrims and riders follows.
On the banks of the Guadalquivir, boots are getting muddy. And feet are suffering from painful blisters. But the men and women do not surrender.
A joyful festival starts after the march to honour the Virgin and to revitalize the pilgrims. The music of the guitars helps them to forget stress and strain.
Men are singing and going into ecstasies. They are shouting: “Cheers for the Saint of El Rocío, long live the brotherhoods!“ The crowd echoes their words.
For a while the families exchange their normal life for an archaic world. And, for the pilgrimage, horses once more become the most popular means of transport.
The pilgrims have to bring the Virgin Mary in her beautifully decorated wagon safely to the place of pilgrimage. Even when taking a nap this man protects her.
On the third day, the caravan leaves the sandy desert of the National Park. After innumerable hours of walking, the village El Rocío is only a few hours away.
Like in the times of the Wild West, roads in the village of El Rocío are covered with sand. Instead of noisy engines there is the sound of horses and carriages.
In the village of El Rocío, people from all over Spain come together to visit the Virgin of El Rocío and to celebrate Whitsunday.
Fathers dressed in richly decorated leather trousers are riding with their sons through the holy place, while the last brotherhoods are arriving at dusk.
The pilgrims light candles to the glory of the Virgin. After this strenuous walk, a joyful celebration to honour the Virgin takes its course.