It’s 27 past midnight, and the fireworks that lasted for at least eighteen minutes have just stopped.
I was woken up by such a loud crash and echoing boom that my mind went straight to thoughts of Syria, Turkey, war zones, terrorism…
Maybe it was the toy gun I was shooting earlier at the fiesta, maybe the coffee I had after dinner, maybe the screams of the children I could hear running through the streets, but I could not calm my racing heart for quite some time.
Even now, I am forcing my breathing to slow. I think this is the first time in my life I’ve prayed for fireworks to stop.
I imagined bombs, torpedoes, blasts and carnage. I imagined my parents scouring news articles of the attack on Spain, trying to find word of me. I thought of exactly where my boots are, and quickly worked out how fast I could put them on, grab my pack and run. And as I told my mind to calm down, reminding myself it’s just part of the party, I wondered how many children, mothers, people around the world are actually being awakened by blasts from real enemies. Is this a glimpse of how they feel? What icy fear must grip their hearts as they hear screams outside, knowing they are not cries of joy but of terror?
Oh Lord, I prayed that You would open my eyes to see the world how You see it; to enlarge my heart to feel more of what You feel, but I don’t know what to do with this.
Bring Your peace to the world. Surround panicked families with Your grace and glory. Let Your light shine in the darkest of places. Flood hearts with a supernatural trust and knowledge of Your goodness. Show me what difference I can make in this hurting and broken world.
Reign here, Lord.
* * *
Well that wasn’t the ending to my day I had imagined.
We got up crazy early – 4:30AMish – to walk before the sun and get to say goodbye to Frank, who was apparently finally going ahead.
Frank has tried almost daily to push forward, as he wanted a day in Lisbon before he flies back to Canada, but it appears you can’t fight destiny, and his destiny is to keep hanging with us for now! Bed bugs, body aches, blisters, phone in the pool, wrong turns, leaving things behind – you name it, it’s happened to him. That guy Jess and I chased up the hill at the start? Frank. He’s one of my favourites here though, so I don’t mind that he keeps hanging around. Plus it’s a bonding point for the rest of us when we see him again and get to laugh about how he still hasn’t moved on!
So Yannick and I started early, walking next to a creek most of the way. As it was before the sun had risen, we couldn’t see much except the path ahead of us. Yannick spent a heck of a lot of time swatting away flies (next to a creek? red flag right there), but I didn’t think much of it… Until our eyes adjusted as the sun crept over the horizon and I happened to glance at his bag… It was crawling!
So. Many. Mozzies. (aka. mosquitoes for the north Americans among us 😉).
I managed to keep my tough Australian girl bravado on while we powered through, until we reached the first town and our path peeled away from the creek bed. My skin is still crawling just thinking about those mozzies though!
There was a man sitting on a bench directly where our path turned, with his feet lifted up onto his pack on the seat.
We said hi, and asked how he was. He wasn’t the best.. He had sprained his ankle FIVE DAYS previously and had been walking on it, but today was just too much, so he was planning on catching the bus from the town centre. Before heading straight on, we paused and asked if there was anything we could do. He said there wasn’t, but I still felt to double check.
“Can we at least carry your bag to the station?”
“Oh no, I couldn’t ask you to do that.”
I took a leaf out of my Daddy’s book and responded with a line I’ve heard him use before: “You didn’t ask.”
I put my pack down to take his on my back and place mine on front, but Yannick picked up mine too quickly and did just that himself. It was a real special moment as the three of us walked/hobbled into town – Anders had not been expecting any help at all, and I was not expecting any either when I offered.
We got Anders to the station and wished him luck. He called us his angels and hoped to see us in the next town.
Throughout the day we patted calves, followed rocky arrows, stopped at a free juice/fruit oasis and crossed a ‘bridge’ over railway tracks that I’m sure had the engineers in stitches, thinking about all the tired pilgrims who had to cross that atrocity.
My plan was simply to check the cafes along the Way and stumble across him (although he was hours ahead), but instead I ran into three Portuguese friends who told me with big smug cheeky grins that Frank was inside the albergue; staying there for the night because he got bed bugs. Again. Poor fella.
I laughed too, admittedly.
Later, a group of us spilled onto the street to go find dinner. Even better: we found a fiesta!
There were some folk dances, plenty of helium balloons, fairy floss, hot dogs, churros, fireworks, and all those carnival games you beg your parents to let you play.
Luckily for me, my parents are in Australia. And I’m a grown woman.
I walked right up to that shooting range and paid for a game. The girl spoke ZERO english, but gestured that I just had to shoot down at least eight of the ten cans to win a prize. I shot the first three down no worries, but hit a little low on the fourth and it only wobbled – but stayed put. Of course, I shot the rest of those babies right over but that girl had tricked me! The cheeky thing! You’re supposed to shoot them ALL over.
So we went and got churros.
I couldn’t leave it, so I went back and shot 10 out of 10 cans down. Boo-yeah 🙌🏽
One Adventure Time plushie for Domenico, coming right up!
We had dinner, we went back to the albergue, we went to bed.
And then I was woken up by that loud crash and echoing boom and you already know how that went.