Tuesday 7th April
After emptying the water tank and filling up with water (but not emptying the toilet, the drain was blocked) we made our way to the next destination, Fatima, only 20km away until Stella gets involved and takes us on a very nice tour of Portugal which is only 35 miles long and takes us through two toll cameras on the motorway! She also took me up a street where I may have lightly brushed up against a parked car and then had to reverse 50 yards. The white van man behind was very understanding (or his horn wasn’t working).
We’d been threatened with storms, lightning, thunder and more rain but it’s been a lovely day.
Just before arriving in Fatima we saw a launderette so made a quick u-turn and spent a lovely hour watching the smalls go round while we talked to three American backpackers who were on a tour of Europes major religious points of interest. We’d not done any washing for a couple of weeks which is fine for me, my April pants are still as fresh as a daisy but Lucy was getting close with only 8 pairs of knickers left!
This is almost our view from the aire. This is Albergeria Nossa Senhora dos Dores, a neoclassical basilica built in the 1920’s.
And rund the front it’s all walled off so we can’t get in. It looks like a major event is about to take place but we couldn’t find a tourist information office and we were too shy to ask. All the pavements were being spruced up and there were lots of building works going on in the area.
From the same point you can see a huge esplanade. It is estimated that over 1,000,000 people came to Fatima when Pope John Paul II came to visit in 2000. He was here to beautify two of the three shepherd girls who witnessed the Virgin Mary in 1917, May 13th to be precise and that may be the date that everyone is working towards. Only two of the girls were beautified, the third died in 2005 after spending her life as a nun.
And still standing in the same spot a Nativity scene that Lucy liked.
On the far side of the square we could see one of the pilgrims making their way on their knees very slowly.
These two had only just started and they were going a bit faster than the first one. As we moved on we could see two very young children, they couldn’t have been more than five or six being made ready to do their penance on their knees. It must have been 300 yards they had to crawl.
And when you’re little it must seem even further.
At the opposite end of the square is the Basilica de SS Trindade, a modern circular church so new it isn’t even in my guide book yet!
Here’s Pope John Paul II just in case you have trouble reading Portuguese.
Lots and lots of tourist tat shops all selling the same stuff. When I say lots, I mean hundreds.
And look what you could be buying. We think these are all wax because they were next to candles and they were the same colour. What would you do with a hollow wax leg, hand or arm? I’m sure there must be a good reason to buy some of this.
Last nights church bells were a bit unusual. They chimed the hours and half hours all through the night but not just once. Just incase you woke up half way through the bells ringing and didn’t know if you had missed a dong or not, they helpfully repeated themselves a minute later although you still didn’t know if it was 1am or half past an hour.
Tonights bells are far more interesting. Every 15 minutes they go off very loudly and then on the hour we get something very special. When I was in the Scouts we were given a set of hand bells one evening and tried to get a tune out of them. Unbeknown to me and the rest of !st Upminster Scout Troop our efforts were recorded and now play every hour in Fatima. At 9.15pm this evening all hell let loose, all the bells were going for a good five minutes (we call it church bell jazz) and now they’ve stopped for the night. We’ve been told they start again at 7am, that’ll cheer Lucy up.
A couple of days ago I showed a photo of an aqueduct in Evora and said it was Roman. Sorry, it might not be Roman, it might just be 16th Century.
Emma has sent a text to us tonight, she has to go in to the Solicitors tomorrow and sign all the paperwork for the shop lease – hurray, at last we can look forward to receiving an income from the shop instead of it costing us a fortune to keep empty.