Yesterday, on my way to Porto I made a stop on The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima. As the bus made its way into the station I saw the top of the Basilica, which rises 65 meters high. When got off the bus, I walked there on the main road not realizing I had just missed the town of Fatima to the left of the road. The sanctuary was nothing like what I expected. Or, I guess I had no idea about what to expect. I thought I would see one Basilica. However, the sanctuary is a large complex with many buildings and monuments. The Basilica sits at the top overlooking a huge open plaza with a monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the center. To the right is the open air Chapel of Apparitions. At the opposite end is the Church of the Holy Trinity and at the end, on the left, the Chapel of the Sacred Laursperene. I only had a couple of hours so I walked around and lit a couple of candles. Then, I sat in line to visit an exhibit not realizing that the people in line were enough to fill the space and prevent me from going in. One of the nuns explained that they were 55 students going inside together and the place was not big enough to accommodate anyone else. I had to walk back to the bus station to continue on to my trip to Porto so I left. On my way back, I walked through the little town that I had skipped on my way in. The whole place was lined up with colorful little stores selling religious souvenirs. Main street, side streets, the plaza, all with many, many, many small shops selling similar souvenir items. I browsed the shops under the pouring rain and made my way back to the bus station. Many of the items were very similar to the ones my father had brought home from his trip to Fatima. It's been many years since he went to Fatima, but I still have the rosary and the image of Fatima he bought me.
Well, the answer is simple. I grew up listening to my dad telling me about having the best time in Portugal and Spain. He loved it. He wanted to go back and walk the Camino de Santiago. He wanted to do this with his good friend, and my godfather, Moreira. My father passed in 2012, the day after he turned 75. He never walked to Santiago. I am walking in his honor. I am walking for my dad. It's not repentance; it's not a religious quest. It just something that reminds me of my father and his stories. He liked to talk, flourishing his speech is ways I am not capable of doing. When he talked he made Portugal and Spain sound magical. He was keen on speaking in family gatherings because he always had something to say. Since he was the elder of the family, everyone stopped and listened. I stopped and listened. I miss listing to his voice. I miss having a conversation with him. So I am going to walk his walk. It was his walk. It is now my walk.