Dispatch #6: Daydreaming and Pondering History (Oporto, Portugal)

As I type this entry, I’m listening to the sweet duet of Rachelle Ferrell and Will Downing crooning “Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This Before”.  Sublime music, Spain, Portugal, verdant landscape and Brazilian style food all in one day.  Give thanks and praises to the Most High.

It’s been a dreamy type of day since rising early in Madrid and taking a pleasant 1-hour flight to Oporto.  There is something about Portugal’s landscape and waterways, including the magnificent Douro River, that resonates deep in my body.  It would be an understatement to say that Oporto is a historical city—one of the earliest houses built here was constructed in the first half of the 14th century.  Okay, that’s old by any standard.  Amongst the monuments, dilapidated houses, impossibly unstructured medieval streets, ornate churches, and open plazas, I get the sense that there are restless spirits here too.

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This evening, I watched the sunset from my 10th floor hotel room. The Cementerio de Agramonte (19th century) with its Byzantine style frescoes and elaborate crypts occupied the view too. Earlier today it drew me in, called me to visit the cemetery grounds twice.

Last week, I described to a Portuguese woman who regularly travels to Oporto, a religious procession I’d observed near the cemetery on my first visit to this city. I told her how awestruck I was to follow the procession for part of the route before turning off onto a cobble street that led me to an even more eye-catching sight—Cementerio de Agramonte. Apparently the elaborate procession with musicians, altar boys, and decorated laity was in celebration of a Catholic saint. She laughed and replied, “No one does Catholicism like the Portuguese!” Well, that may be true but there is definitely some other religious, spiritual, and psychic churnings here too.

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