top of page

Saudade for Portugal:  Part One
Porto et al: Breezin’ and Driftin’ 

The mood had to be correct because expectations for Porto and nearby Portuguese and Spanish towns were high.  Though the translations were not completely clear, I started with Fado beforehand and, I could feel the vibe!  Hey, this music moves you:  Mariza- "Hay Una Música Del Pueblo"; "Ana Moura"- "Até Ao Verão"; Amalia Rodriques- "Fado Portuguệs"; Madredeus- "Haja O Que Houver" eu est ou aqui. Haja o que houver…


Excitement mounted as Porto appeared by night from above and made a seductive impression, sun setting and city lights reflecting on the shimmering, midnight blue ocean. Oh, I was in trouble! I knew immediately that I was saying “goodbye” to the envisioned leisurely vacation and trading it for another adventure.  Ola Porto!!!


Whirling through Porto- the old town and its vitality; Riberia and its riverwalk; Vila de Gaia and the wine caves; the gardens, arboretum and tea house of Serralves; Se do Porto, Igreja de Sao Francisco and the other cathedrals; walking and walking with my spirit in the wind, I found pause to admire the gentle and accommodating manner of the Portuguese and recognized it as a kindred quality in the Uruguayans, encountered on a previous journey. Access to the many captivating towns and cities of Portugal and Galicia- Braga, Viana do Castelo, Guimares, Pontevedra, Bueu, Vigo, Santiago de Compostela- was a cinch…I was breezin’.


BOM Jesus do Monte  (Good Jesus of the Mount) at Braga, which was simple and intricate at the same time, was an emotional experience that surpassed feelings at Zaragoza’s La Seo. Taken singularly, the sanctuary was incomplex, with modest lines and bland colors.  It consisted of an altar, absent of engraved gold and elaborate carvings and, instead, the church displayed a depiction of the Crucifixion with colorful, life-sized models.  A monumental eighteenth century staircase, divided into stages comprised of small chapels, statutes, biblical scenes, fountains and gardens, led the ascent to the sanctuary.   In the aggregate, however, from hundreds of steps below, the impact of this pilgrimage site was overpowering.


Once more, I found myself being fascinated by the water.  From the secret spot of my friends in the mountains of Pontevedra, near Vigo, I pondered the same questions I’ve repeatedly asked myself:  Is the water truly as beautiful as it seems?  When did it feel the most beautiful and the most intriguing? Is it now, gazing at the icy and steel blue Atlantic where it flows into the Ria Pontevedra, as I am perched amongst ancient boulders, jettisoned from the ocean thousands of years ago? Was it the crystalline and enchanting expanse of the Mediterranean between Malaga and Casablanca, murmuring in the slight breeze and yielding an incandescent moment of emotion? Was it the powerful and majestic Iguazu Falls, rendering me insignificant before such splendor?  Perhaps, it was the sediment laden Rio de la Plata, offering the intrigue of historical battles, revolutions, counterrevolutions, and economic and social strife. Or, maybe, it was the dark sapphire and violent Caribbean Sea, in the midst of a tropical storm as my speedboat raced from Cartagena toward the Rosario Islands: I was hot, then drenched and dried and, all over again and again …Whoa, my mind was driftin’.


There I was, again, focusing on the subject of beauty. In a previous discussion, my global e-pal observed that for the spirit to reach a philosophical sublime condition, it must not only contemplate “la beaute,”it must penetrate it, and become it. Now, there’s a challenge! In spite of my curious nature and it’s inclination toward the pursuit of understanding beauty, wonder and happiness, reaching this philosophical sublime state is a lofty goal. Pondering that observation and, as I consider the extraordinariness of my many experiences and journeys, I do know that the existence of wonderment is all around.  Porto et al did nothing to discredit my theory: From the peak of Viana do Castelo, where the Atlantic feeds the Lima Ria, I thought, for a second, a challenge had been presented to the scene at Pontevedra.  Lisboa by night astounded me and Fado music absorbed me. Momentarily, I slipped right into the tranquility of life at the charming chateau of my friends amidst a small vineyard, an orchard and a spectacular ocean viewpoint in Bueu, near Pontevedra.  Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, its magnificent façade, glorious altar and fulfilled faces of those who made their pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, enthralled me.  BOM Jesus do Monte brought me to tears. 


 Ao Longe o Mar (Far Away the Sea)


...When I saw far away the sea

There I stood, still looking

Yes, I sing of the hope

I sing your awakening and embracing the yearning

I sing the time that goes by

When I saw far away the sea

There I stood, still looking

When I saw far away the sea

Without knowing, there I stood.



Adeus Porto et al.  Até logo.

bottom of page