I’m also doing some traveling, which takes time beforehand to organize and time when you’re back to rest up from your vacation.
Next weekend is a short stay in Boston for an old friend’s birthday party. I wonder if the city has a Leverage walking tour yet! I am still a fan. As fate would have it I’m staying in a hotel that used to be police headquarters.
And the following weekend I go to Portugal, specifically to Sintra for another international chorale workshop conducted by Ghislaine Morgan, who also directed the one I went to last summer in Casole d’Elsa, Tuscany. One thread of my life seems to be woven into the time-honored tradition of British heliotropic travel to places of the sun.
Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage city, the former retreat for Portuguese royalty. Lord Byron stopped there and wrote to Francis Hodgson in 1809: "I must just observe that the village of Cintra in Estremadura is the most beautiful in the world." He liked it so much he threw it into the olio that is Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.
The city has layers upon layers of conquering rulers: Roman administers, the Moors, the Reconquista by King Alfonso Henriques in 1147, the Knights Templar, and finally the crown heads of the country, when the Royal Palace was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. It sits within lush hills that drop to the sea, and the cacophony of cultures that have dominated it has left it with a mystical aura. This site about Lisbon has some great information about the city: “The Romans made it a place of cult moon worshiping and named it "Cynthia" after the goddess of the moon.”
I was in Portugal 9 years ago, in Lisbon and Coimbra as part of a singing tour with the Davidson Singers. I was deeply struck by this land of fado and Sebastanism, and I’m happy to be going back.
I was looking to load up the old Kindle with books for the trip so I was poking around Amazon when I learned of Jose Saramago, Portugal’s Nobel prize winning writer who died only last year.
I downloaded a collection of his novels: Baltasar and Blimunda, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, Blindness, and Death with Interruptions. Here is the gloss for that last one: it centers around the moral, religious, and practical implications when at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, people stop dying.
That’s the very same premise of Torchwood: Miracle Day. What a surprise. What a strange way to stumble onto this connection. (Then I Googled the 2 together, and a few people in comments on articles pointed out the similarity, but I didn’t see it in any article). I’ll have to see for myself how close they really are.
But I bet there is much the Portuguese are quietly ahead of us on.