Guimarães at night is unbelievable: the city THROBS with energy, life, and light. There are flashing, twinkling, twirling LIGHTS all over the main streets. I got several pictures. It´s like a huge fair, only it´s every night. It´s ten American cities at Christmas. Where do they get the electricity to run all these lights? I don´t know, but it is joy, and it belongs to everyone. Families are out with their dogs, their kids, and their grannies, walking, talking, playing, competing at chess or card games in the park with many onlookers. The college students are dancing to their own beats, or rubbing against each other, or arguing and drinking many beers. There is such life here. I´ve never seen anything like it. There is even a “Museum of the Night,” but I was too tired to check it out. So this is just a quick blog, the morning after, to add that, and also to add a couple of qualifications and apologies for my offenses.
First, it was wrong of me to say that the Portuguese are perhaps the most beautiful white people on earth, because of course there are many Portuguese who are not white. Let me say rather that the Portuguese, of all colors, are beautiful to my eyes; and that while I tend in general not to find white people particularly beautiful in a physical way, as we have such terrible skin that shows every blemish and vein and looks like something that has been hidden away under a rock for too long, nonetheless there is a roundedness to the faces of many Portuguese white people, a richness in the hair, a compactness that I (in my long-faced, multiply blemished, veiny lankiness) admire. And so to my eyes, these white people are unsually beautiful, in general. Generalizations being always stupid.
Next, it is not true that everyone I know hates George W. Bush. I know a couple of people who voted for him and who, despite our differences of political opinion, are people I value. So I apologize for having erased them for the benefit of the woman at the Tourism office yesterday. At breakfast this morning I met the first Americans I have met in Portugal, a couple from Pennsylvania. The man recently retired from the Navy and his wife teaches middle school. Somehow they brought up the issue of the President, and I was very cautious, as it was only breakfast and we will never see each other again, so there was no point in being contentious. He said, “I voted for the guy, and I love him, but I think he´s a complete maniac.” I did not ask questions, but I was somewhat puzzled. I will say no more about that. Anyone who knows me knows my politics, and those who don´t can figure it out easily enough.
Finally, on the subject of birthdays. I tend to forget the wonders of the past when faced with the ecstasy of the moment. I HAVE had other wonderful birthdays. The one in South Africa with the hundreds of leaping and whistling dolphins, and the one last year in Massachusetts come immediately to mind. It is silly to make comparisons. This one was just spectacular in a way that no other birthday ever has been or could have been.
And one more thing about all this blogging: blogging has been a joy to me. Alicia, the Spanish woman I met in Leiria, is the only person, male or female, traveling alone, I have encountered on this whole trip, other than myself of course. I would probably feel a bit lonely from time to time if I didn´t have the blog. There is also another purpose of writing than the three that came up in my drug-induced dream in Ponte de Lima: I write to know what I think, to bear witness to my day, to have a conversation (with myself). As I had to throw away my journal, the blog has become a journal. It has been very easy to find internet places in Portugal, up to now. Tomorrow, when I get to Melgaço, it may be a different story. Now, on with the day, and the cable car up the mountain. I may even blog a second time tonight!
Tags: Guimarães, Portugal