We are staying in a fabulous apartment beside the river, opposite dozens of port merchants and under one of the spectacular bridges across the Douro River. We could not be more central. Ceridwyn found the apartment (and others we have used on this trip) on Owners Direct –
Fernando met us and guided us here – it is not on Google maps, this area of the city is too old, and it is not really on a street, but on the river. A bottle of Port and a lovely cheese was in the apartment waiting for us – we find a bottle lasts about 2 days – are we really drinking that much??
Saturday was All Saints Day, so Danielle and I decided to go to Church – no problem finding one, there are Catholic churches every corner you turn – in fact there is one famous place where there are two churches actually side by side! We had sussed out the time for Saturday evening which helped us to stay up late enough to go to another Fado concert – they never start before 9.30.
I have always enjoyed celebrating All Saints and All Souls/Halloween. It is a time when the veil between the worlds seems thin, and a good time to remember old friends. Especially in this Mass when I understood not a word, it was a good time to remember friends who have died. I love the idea that we are ‘surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses’.
- My beloved Ngaire companion of 17 years who died almost 2 years ago
- My mum and dad who loved me and set me on the road
- Te Rua Winiata a wise woman and strong who died too young
- Bill and Margaret who I lived with in community 33 years ago and who died tragically in a car accident 20 years ago
I wept as I remembered what these people had given me, and I asked their blessing on my journey, and presence along the way. Its not that I ‘believe’ in any real sense in life after death, but I do believe people leave us with an ongoing gift of love which we can treasure and carry with us.
Old cities and towns, with their churches and castles and temples are similar – they too gift us with a story of love, and passion and longing (along with war and pestilence of course!) Part of the journey seems to be to listen to these voices and to hear what they are saying to us today. One of those voices in Portugal is Fado and it was great to hear it again here in :Porto with its songs of longing and passion.
Another Porto voice for me has been the River – we have lived beside it, watched the boats, and today made the journey of 100 kms on it with DouraAzul www.douroazul.pt
It has been tamed in recent times by dams and bridges and locks, but it flows on. Beside it grapes and making the magic wine that is Port has been a way of life that has gone on unchanged for centuries. Long may it continue!