I had a privileged position, almost leaning against the children, and could observe as I pleased. Thus I could make some tests. I made a motion to stick my fingers in their eyes. Repeatedly I passed my hand in front of them. Not a contraction, not a blink! They were completely absorbed in something that we could not comprehend, that was totally outside what was happening around them. At my side a doctor—I saw him well, although he tried to hide—dared even more than I myself. With a needle he repeatedly stuck them in the arms.
Nevertheless, there did not appear in them the least sign that they had felt anything. I know that these tests were repeated during various other falls that they had during the march on that afternoon.
Finally they got up and they continued upwards toward the Pines. We followed them as well as we could through that long and difficult calleja of the apparitions. I cannot explain how they— without ever looking away for a second from the vision on high—could follow that path without deviating the slightest either to the right or to the left. And how they walked over all types of obstacles, especially at the top of the slope, so steep, with so many bushes and thorny plants.
They fell on their knees before the Pines as if someone had placed them carefully there, without scratch marks, without perspiration, without the least sign of fatigue. On the other hand, the rest of us were arriving perspiring, gasping for breath, with the marks of our falls, spills, and scratches. It did not surprise me that so many people had remained along the way.
On their knees in front of one of the Pines— I think it was the center one—they stayed a long time praying, talking and smiling with someone invisible. Leaning my ear against their faces, I could catch some of the words from time to time. I think that what they repeated most when they spoke was this, How good, how good! Oh, yes? Oh how good!»
But let us continue to listen to Mr. Otero:
«During the time at the Pines, I could notice the extraordinary laugh and smile of the children in ecstasy. They laughed with their whole person. They had none of what is so frequent and what we might call laughing with the mouth only. Their laugh came bursting out from within themselves, because I think that they were then full of a joy of which we were unaware.
The people around them started to keep a religious silence, and then someone began to lead a prayer. It was night, but one could see rather well by the light from the flashlights. I myself, not wanting to miss anything, was also there to protect the children—together with Ceferino and his son. To do this, on our knees as we were, we held out our arms and hung on to each other's hands, forming a little wall in a half circle that prevented the curious from falling on top of the two children. In order to push harder, at one time I stretched out my free left hand to grab one of those pine branches—at that time there were some very low ones(11)—when I heard Loli shout, Hey, he is touching the Virgin! You can imagine my emotions!
The coming down from the Pines had more or less the same characteristics as the going up. The children, remaining in ecstasy, had still another fall—very different from the ones we were having. And everything ended at the church doors. When the girls returned to their normal selves(12) I could ascertain more at leisure and more carefully that they had not broken any bones, nor did they have any marks on their knees. If that isn't a miracle, then let the intellectuals tell me what is.
To complete my astonishment, after all those things had left the rest of us depleted, I saw that the girls were fresher and in better condition than ever, without tiredness or exhaustion, as if they had just come out of the most restful and contented sleep. I myself wasn't in such good shape. And it was no pleasure to look at my suit and shoes; I can tell you this, that I had come with some good quality shoes that were almost new, and the next day or the following, I had to buy new ones.
Another thing about the girls that amazed me was that they were oblivious to the things that were happening around them—and that they had the impression that all this that lasted more than two hours, had lasted only a few seconds—and it seemed to them that they had hardly moved.
In later visits to Garabandal with members of the Aledo family, I had the good fortune to see many other things; but the things I saw on the first day impressed me the most.
I can positively assure you that I'll never forget that day. It was unique and I know for my part I've seen many countries and many things.»
But then, all those things that José Otero could observe on his first day in San Sebastián de Garabandal had been everyday occurrences there — except the ecstatic marches—for almost a month, and would continue to be everyday occurrences for many more months.
And many refused to believe. And almost all were asking again and again for a miracle!
11. Today it would not be possible to do what Mr. Otero did, since the low branches of the Pines are all gone; the people have cut them off in order to take a souvenir or relic.
12. The entrance of the girls into the trance was instantaneous. In a fraction of a second they raised their heads sharply and were held affixed to the vision, which led them from one place to another.
The general way of ending was by making the sign of the cross or giving a kiss. But what occurred at the end, according to what they explained, was that «the Virgin went away as though she were dissolving.» (Father Andreu in the report previously mentioned)
13. When the events began, amateur and professional photographers soon appeared. These saw a means of income in selling photographs of the girls. But neither the girls themselves, nor their families took part in any of this.