Monday 16th June 2008
Sao Pedro de Moei – Fatima – Figueira da Foz – Praia do Mira
„… I was trying to find sleep after a big party, but I could not. Suddenly Michael Douglas entered my room, stood in front of my bed and said:
„I am a special agent and I have a mission for you. Get up, put neoprene clothes on and come with me!“
I got up, went to another room where one friend was sleeping in an armchair. I took my neoprene suit which I was wearing for the party, but it smelled of smoke and I hated it. But Michael Douglas urged me to go and I put the suit on. We drove along a coastline, to a cliff high above the sea. The ground was totally black. Michael took some tweezers out of his bag, gave them to me, and told me that between the stones it was full of electrons, and my mission was to find the electrons and to gather them all with the tweezers.
„For what?“ I asked.
„The governemnt wants to build a time machine with them!“
I gathered the electrons, put them all one by one in a plastic bag, and we drove away again. Suddenly a guy with a gun arrived and pointed it at me.
„Give me the bag!“
But Michael had a gun too, and stood behind him, and forced him to lift his arms.
We went into the car, the guy was driving, with the gun pointed to his face. But somehow he succeeded in reversing the situation and I escaped from the car. The guy ran after me….“
No idea if I escaped and if somebody could build the time machine with the electrons I had gathered… the rain upon the roof of the motorhome awoke me!
Damn, our first rain here in Portugal!
In fact we had wanted to walk along the wooden path they have built on stilts here all along the coast, but it was raining and even if I generally find rain romantic, I was not quite in the mood of such romanticism. We had in fact a very profane preoccupation: we needed urgently to find a place to empty our toilet!
By the way, these woodland paths, apparently another example of an incredible effort of time and money waste. The path goes for ever, because of the danger of erosion they say, but fact is that there is hardly anybody walking on it. Exactly the same phenomenon as the bike track yesterday…
Kevin had said, after spilling his hot milk over for his cereal:
„It will be one of those f…g days again, when everything goes wrong!“
and indeed it became one of those days.
I had planned a trip to the inner part of the country, leaving the coast for a while, making a loop through some interesting places, the heart of them being Fatima, one of the internationally well-known centres of Catholicism. But let me tell you something: if you want to go to Fatima, wherever you are or come from, just take the toll road! Don´t be tempted to follow the green marked tourist roads, you might end with your car in pieces, and above all you might lose your heart for Portugal!
As much as we have loved Portugal until now, I must say that we lost a little bit of this love today. The roads we were driving today were a nightmare. I am not speaking about the curves, but about the surfaces. Holes and bumps everywhere, sleeping policemen for pedestrians at places where nobody lives, and when you finally get a better road for some kilometers, the speed is incessantly limited to 50 or even 30 kilometers the hour. We spent hours and hours driving on these roads.
And then: three times today, through lack of signage at the right places, we ended up on totally wrong roads, each of them costing us hours of wandering without any idea where we were!
At the end of the day Kevin was really a „wreck“. I don´t know who is in Portugal responsible for the traffic management, but is is simply a catastrophe. I thought it could never be worse than in Spain, but the Portuguese have overtaken the Spaniards! And I wonder, instead of building these useless bike and pedestrian tracks everywhere, why don´t they use the money to fix their roads, which are far more frequented? Or why doesn´t give the EU money to Portugal, instead of to Spain, where they have got more than enough fantastic roads?
Anyway, Fatima was worth the trip. I was born 5 kilometers from Lourdes, in France, this other international centre of Catholicism, and I was expecting something in the same style. If you want to know what I mean just listen to Kevin´s „Heretic Song“.
But Fatima is very different, much quieter, purer, much more modern too. I wonder if it is because the wondrous apparition was later in time (1917)? Fatima is a peaceful place, not many shops full of holy stuff like in Lourdes. The sanctuary itself and above all, the modern chapel, with all the doors corrsponding to each apostle is really a place of peace, concentration and great religious symbolism. Religious or nor, you can go there, sit and relax. It is wonderful for that. In fact it is the most relaxing church I have ever seen. The whole sanctuary is, with its immense yard. We even attended a mass, well, standing in the background… I found the canticle so beautiful, and even if Kevin says that the singing monk was out of tune, I find that he sang beautifully. And that the Portuguese language is quite appropriate for this kind of songs…
Kevin the Heretic was quite impressed by the whole thing too, but of course he could not help letting out his hilarious comments about Catholicism and its rites. I wished he would not be so lazy and write „The Heretic 2“., or at least share all these bons mots with you in his travel tale in Cafe Crem. Catholicism has an incredible impact on him, he always becomes especially brilliant with words, one could think it is really divine inspiration. You can for example imagine his comments as we ate the best ever bread,bought in Fatima, can´t you?
At the end of the day, already quite exhausted, we still spent 2 hours trying to find a place for the night. But we were stuck on endless, chaotic woods roads, where we couldn´t drive faster than only 10 kilometers the hour…
Our torture came to an end about 21h30, as we arrived in this place, Praia do Mira. As itself not a wonderful place, the town has no charm, but the beach and the dunes are wonderful and we have found a great place to spend the night, surely the best place here. Once again, 5 stars!