4 May 2002 Lisbon
Transcribed from scans of Danny's handwritten travel notes:What a delightful day connecting with the past. Mom & I have come here to renew her passport & my ID card, tasks with which Luzia Machado was an enormous and indispensible help. Two days of relatively painless dealing with the gov't bureaucracy and all is settled. Surely a great deal easier than dealing with the Orwellian administration Luzia had to struggle with to establish our credentials for citizenship in the late 80's.
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NOTE: Jiddo means "grandfather" and refers here to Daniel da Cruz, the one born in Portugal; "Dad" refers to Daniel Pattee da Cruz, his son, also known as Uncle Pete. AUB is the American University of Beirut.
That done, we went up to Ericeira today to spend time with the family and visit vilar, my grandfather's hometown and our ancestral(?) seat in Portugal. (Okay, that's exaggerating things for a bunch of farmers...)
Dina and Artur picked us up from the Metropole Hotel and we drove to Ericeira, with a quick stop at Mafra to visit the cathedral there. Mafra is also home to the officers' infrantry school — on the grounds of the old convent — and Artur spent 1.5 years there before going off for a stint 'ultra-mar' in Angola, around 1964.
Luzia was already at their season resort apartment making a delicious 'calderada', a sort of bouillabaisse with a selection of fresh, meaty fish and few veg. Zeca and Zulmira were also there. Haven't seen them since I visited Porto several years ago (93-94?) and they and their 2 sons took us around for the day.
After our hasty lunch (the dining room overlooks the Atlantic, stormy and unsettled) we all drove together to Vilar to meet the 'aunts'.
Vilar turned out to be something different from the dusty little village I had always visualized in my mind. My preconception may have come from descriptions of the place from Dad, but his last time through the place was in the early 50s. The town/village turned out to be neat enough, handsome in white paint and renovated homes, not poetic or romantic but… well, decent. We drove to the home of Lea and Luzia, two elderly ladies (Luzia and (Zela?)'s aunts) that we were visiting. They both turned out to be wonderful people. Lea was 89, Luzia a sprightly, even good looking 85, both with their wits completely about them and an interest in us. They were (and we were) clearly touched to meet us. They took us into the living room & brought out some old photo albums and thumbed through several pages of family pix, including a whole load of photos of Dad. Several were taken on his last visit, in 53(?) when he was riding his Vespa through Europe, presumably. A couple of pix were taken with the two of them, good looking young women in their thirties (Luzia: 'I was single then').
They vividly remember his visit, obviously a big deal for them back then. Other pix were of Fran and Vivian and the boys, although they had never met them. Some pix also of Jiddo da Cruz, c. early 50's, and two type-written tomes by Daniel da Cruz senior. One appears to be an astronomical tract, the other a volume of short stories. I would have loved to ask to keep them, but wouldn't ask to part with dearly treasured possessions, which they've kept for over half a century.
It was touching and meaningful to meet the last of their generation. They are Dad's first cousins and have vivid memories of Jiddo & his generation. A fragile, fleeting link with the past. Enjoyed a few moments together in their lush backyard, eating loquats off laden trees, and admiring lemon and orange trees also heavy with fruit.
On our way out of the village, ran into '(Jonico?)' (nickname, short for somehing — how about that for attention to detail?) and his Colombian wife. Jonico speaks the best English of the lot, having lived for 27 years in Mississauga, Canada, where he still has a daughter. He's a (Popeye-looking?) fellow, a real talker and all-around jovial guy. Turns out he's also an accomplished painter. We stop & wait a while, then Jonico says he just (illegible) Raimundo a short distance away, and why don't we stop by his house and say hello.
Raimundo is our family's most notorious member, our own Che Guevara. He is a former Communist, ex-Politburo (PLP) member, previous revolutionary, past armed militant who spent ten years underground between c. '64 & the while fighting against the fascist regime of Salazar. Dad had occasionally mentioned his cousin Raimundo Narciso being an ideologue of the Portuguese Communist Party but we hadn't realized he was such a firebrand. Don't know about his past but just bought his book Accão Revolucionaria Armada: a historia secreta do braço armado do PCP. It apprently is a frank discussion of his activities as an 'armed militant' before rejoining the world following the Socialists' rise to power in '74 & becoming first a Communist then a Socialist deputy in Parliament. He is now a biz consultant of sorts & wants to take up writing and painting.
He clearly remembers meeting Dad, and the fact that he was teaching at AUB and had been in the diplomatic service in Iraq during the 50s. On his mantlepiece he keeps three goache paingings of DdC senior, yet more family pieces I'd like to recover sometime.