Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 24: Hello Fatima

IThe day started early. I was having a horrible time last night constantly being disturbed my bouts of hacking cough, The Cough has become the bane of my trip for over a week now. When the alarm sounded at 4am, I was glad to jump out of bed and get my things and get to the airport early. 

I was checking out at 4:15am, great I'll be able to catch the 430a shuttle, I walked towards the driver to get on the shuttle, he said it wasn't going to the airport. LIES!

I was the only person out there that early in the morning along with a flight crew. When the crew was finished smoking their cigarettes, they boarded the shuttle and left.

Fifteen minutes later there are at least 20 people standing around waiting for the shuttle. At 4:50a a moped zooms up, guy is in the shuttle driver uniform. He takes off his helmet and proceeds to have a cigarette, as we stand around glaring at him, well I am at least.

He goes inside to drop off his things. He walks back out when one of the shuttles come back. Then he has the nerve to say "I don't know who come first or second, but only 13 people ride."

I make sure I get on.

When I get to the airport, it is now 5:20, my flight leaves at 6:40 so ok. I just have to find the self check in machine. They don't have one. They only allow one bag for carry on so I have to check in my backpack. But the line is over 20 people deep and only two agents working the line. When I finally get to the desk, it is now 5:50 and the agent handling the priority check in counter is pulling people from the line if they are going to Lisbon. 

When I get up, the gate agent checks my name, picks up the phone to the gate and asks if they are taking stand by names. I spoke to him in English, but I'm very very good about watching body language and picking up on terms to find the truth of what they are saying. So I ask if I am flying standby. He assures me no and I have a middle seat.

Then I look at the line at security. I panic. But I jump to a faster looking lane an a man behind me follows, he bullies his way in front of me, handing his boarding pass to the security agent who for some reason doesn't see me standing in front of him!

Then the same dude jumps in from of a bunch of other people. To get through the security check. In the meanwhile I get stuck by the old man who's got to explain what he's got in his bag. Then to add insult to injury, I take off my hat, my belt, my watch and I STILL set off the metal detector and I get to get frisked.

My boarding pas says the flight will board at 6:10, I get through the security check at 6:05, I don't run but I don't dawdle and I can't get breakfast. But guess what? The plan does not board until 620 until 645 they finally close the door and whoever was supposed to be in the window seat never showed up so my middle seat turned into a window seat. Score.

I'm a closet control freak. I'm usually very easy going but when there are timetables, schedules, I freak if they aren't followed. 

But again, as I sit and wait to take off, I take myself to task. What did you really loose but some breakfast? At which point I agree that I didn't need breakfast since I'm running out of funds and I could use to lose some weight anyways. 

When we landed, I couldn't find my check in luggage. When I finally got a hold of someone, he took me to their office and the girl behind the desk started talking very quickly in Portuguese. I was told that there was a problem with removing one of the containers from the plane, it was stuck.

What she really said was that they handled the transfer luggage a first and the luggage that had Lisbon as their final destination can wait. Fifty five minutes later, the belt starts up, 3 bags are thrown on and one of them is mine.

The instructions to the hostel was perfect, but since it was only 9am, I couldn't check into my room yet. I left my big backpack and I took off.

I found my way to the the bus station to catch an express bus to Fatima to continue my unexpected holy pilgrimage.

I honestly thought, not having eaten, on the dehydrated side, I could have died in the heat. I usually love the heat. I was born in that heat. I have romantic notions of that white hot vertical eye glare of a midday sun. I arrived in Fatima exactly at 1230p and the sun was just killer. I actually walked on the shady side of the street. 

The shade was very nice, but once you set foot on the complex, it is all white stone walls and grounds. This humongous white circular building that almost killed me having to walk around it in the blazing heat.

When I finally found a door, I went inside. It was a huge place with rows and rows of pews. The crucifix dominated the altar as it stood almost to the ceiling. Oddly it was very cool inside the church. I need to pay my respects any ways so I stayed a bit and I really think I was close to heat exhaustion. But that moment of reflection was all I needed to regain my strength.

I searched out rosaries and candles to light in prayer. I didn't want to spent the whole day there, didn't look like there was much to see since the actual basilica was under construction.

I wasn't really Lisbon, but it was a good introduction to Portugal.

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