PILGRIMAGE TO FATIMA
The 7-day 80-km hike, Portugal.
No tent, no umbrella, just a sleeping bag, beach sandals, and a 1.5-kilo backpack.
 
eastwind memoirs
By Bernie Lopez, eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com

 

Excerpt 03
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-03

 

This is an excerpt from the book Wings and Wanderlust, the Art of Discovering Your Inner Self, a true story of the daring adventure of a Filipino Programmer in New York turned drifter, hitchhiking 25,000 kilometers for 3 years across Western Europe and North Africa. More than a travelogue, it is a guide to discovering one’s inner self.

 

CHRISTMAS OFFER. Send this book to friends anywhere in the Philippines as a Christmas Gift at a click of a mouse, no muss, no fuss. Only Php 400, including shipping, sent directly to their homes by JRS courier in 2 to 4 days. (To US/EU longer, $30). Email the author at eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com on how to order the book.
 
But first read the excerpt below, and decide if the book is worth it as a Christmas gift.
 
EXCERPT

 

New York City is a paradox. It is for the best of the best – musicians, actors, writers. It is also for the worst of the worst – derelicts, drug addicts, crime gangs. Or perhaps it was I who was the problem, not New York. New York is actually neutral. New York is New York. It is what you make of it. It is really up to you. In spite of enjoying New York, I hated it. New York was a spiritual desert for me, a dead end, an absurd epicurean misadventure. How can I find spirituality when I was so decadent. I needed to change? That was when I drifted through Europe for 3 years. I called my sojourn eastwind, the wind from the east.

 

And so I fled from New York. I drifted through Europe not to tour and enjoy but to “look for myself”.  Eastwind was born not because of a romantic dream of exotic adventure but an escape from a spiritual desert. I took a plane to Brussels, the starting point, and the end point after 3-odd years on a tailspin. This was back in the mid-seventies.

 

to be idle is not evil
you must be empty so you can be filled
nothingness complements fullness
they are cosmic partners
like yin and yang
like light and darkness
yielding shadows and shapes
 
when no thoughts enter your mind
you discern your true self
you become aware of your fullness
when the pool water is smooth as a mirror
you begin to discern your cosmic self
which you may have never seen before
 
After six autumn-to-winter months on the road from Brussels to Canary Islands on a frenzied pace, I hit Lisbon like a lightning bolt. It was spring, time to stop soaring and to start gliding gently. I embarked on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima, a 7-day 80-kilometer hike from Lisbon. This was the time of meditation and soul searching, to pray that I could “find myself” somehow, to pray for light in a period of confusion. This pilgrimage was an important phase of eastwind. After the spiri­tual desert of New York, I wandered aimlessly, looking for an oasis somewhere in the vastness.

 

I left half of my things in Lisbon, keeping my backpack weight to 1.5 kilos for the long distance hike on beach san­dals. I had a sleeping bag, no tent (my guardian angel made sure it would not rain, except for a drizzle on day 4), no cooking gear, extra pants and shirt, wine skin bag, matches and candle (no flashlight), a map, and food.

 

Day One
 
I took the bus to the outskirts of Lisbon. As I walked north, the city gradually faded; the traffic vanished; the noise dwindled. I was tired at the end of day 1, but it was good for the soul. After dinner, I slept early. I slept in the open air most of the time, anywhere convenient in the farm fields.

 

Day Two

 

In the early morning of day 2, I was in the purity and magic of the Portuguese country­side. All of a sudden, there were quaint villages. The road narrowed but never ended.

 

I prayed the rosary about 4 times a day. I did about 2 kilo­meters per hour, or one kilometer in 20 to 30 minutes. I walked about 5 to 6 hours or 10 kilometers a day, minus rest and lunch, from seven in the morning to five in the afternoon. I hiked the 80 kilometers to Fatima in seven days.

 

Day Three

 

At the crack of dawn, I awoke near an empty village plaza, not a soul. I brushed my teeth in a quaint fountain, as if it were my hotel suite. I did not take breakfast until nine. I bought provisions in small village stores, fresh fruits, bread, tomatoes, sausages, and occasional canned sardines, a luxury item. I pre­ferred milk from wine in my skin bag during this gruel­ling work out.

 

Entering another village, a bunch of children ran to greet me. They were all shouting “Peregrino, peregrino” (pilgrim). They crowded each other, giggling and staring at me. They suddenly dis­persed into a nearby orchard, and came back with 2 kilos of peaches. I could only take half a kilo. An old woman came out of a house, shouting at the children. They stole the peaches, I surmised. I waved and smiled at her. Her anger dissipated into a smile. I had to eat them right away because they were getting heavy. The children followed me to the edge of the village. They were singing and shouting and I felt embarrassed because people would come out of their houses and stare. After the village, the silence screamed at me.

 

Day Four

 

In the late afternoon of day 4, it started drizzling. I saw a sheep shed. It smelled a bit of sheep shit, but I had no choice. The farmer let me sleep there. I remem­bered Jesus born in a manger inside such a sheep shed. Imagine, the Creator of the Universe born on itchy dried grass in a smelly shed. It was a mind-boggling thought. Now I prayed to Him to guide me, not so much to Fatima as I knew the way, but to the chaotic world out there waiting for me.

 

Day 5

 

On day 5, I spent the night under an olive tree on top of a knoll. I could see the panorama of the valley below, olive trees all around, reminding me of Gethsemani. There was a stone fence down below twisting and turning, vanishing into the bluish mist. It looked like a paint­ing. The faint peal of sheep bells made my skin hair stand on edge. I wondered if the bells were tolling for me, not for the end but for the beginning of my life.

 

It was here that Our Lady of Fatima gave me the gift of inner peace. It was overwhelming. I was almost in tears. It was my ‘reward’ from Our Lady, her way of showing her pres­ence. The moment was intense and magical. I can never forget that feeling because it is so clear to this day, so overpowering, and so rare in a lifetime full of schedules and tasks and storms and whirlwinds.
 
inner peace may not always be a gift
you may have to earn it
when you finally find it
you will discover it was built into your soul
long before you were born
when you were crafted in a super-nova
billions of years ago
you just have to make it come out
somewhere sometime somehow
otherwise life is absurd

 

Day Six

 

On day 6, my pace was faster to make it to Fatima by day 7. There it was at a distance, the gothic spires reaching up to the heavens. I reached Fatima at night, and ended up sleeping outside the giant portals of the church. Every hour, until dawn, the huge bells rang and echoed in my soul. I could hardly sleep.

 

Day Seven

 

At the crack of dawn of day 7, I was up, afraid the early church goers might see me sprawled at the door step of the church. Everything was grey and misty. At a dis­tance, I dis­cerned a crowd. It was an early out­door Mass near where they had a spring of the miraculous water that had cured thousands of people in the last few decades. After Mass, I put some water from the spring on my forehead. That was the end of the pil­grimage. I was not expecting any miracles.

 

Epilogue

 

After the pilgrimage, I was no longer worried about “finding myself”. I somehow knew it would come in its own time, this self-discovery. After the pilgrimage, I knew eastwind would end in a nice way. I lost my angst at Fatima. I would later on write many articles on Fatima (see links below).

 

It was strange. I could go from total dark­ness to blinding light without flinching. Life on the road was a pendulum swing, from the chaos of Las Palmas to the serenity of the Papagayo cave, from passion with Vicky to prayer at Fatima, from total solitude in Madrid to total immer­sion in Andorra, from bonding with Filipino sailors in Athens to hitchhiking with two blond Swedes from Copenhagen,  from being a janitor in Amsterdam to being a systems analyst in Eindhoven. eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com

 

Email the author at eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com to get the book.
 
Book Cover
 
MORE EXCERPTS
 
Excerpt 07 – A SWEDISH DAMSEL IN DISTRESS, Canary Islands.
Evading security, I sneak into a tourist beach at night. From atop a tall 5-star hotel, a maiden sees me fixing my sleeping bag, and, like an angel, descends into my realm.
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2014/04/eastwind-memoirs-07
 
Excerpt 14 – CHRISTMAS WITH ARABS AND JEWS, Athens, Greece.
What was my loneliest Christmas became an awesome experience.
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2017/12/christmas-with

 

Excerpt 02 – BRAWL IN A PORTUGUESE BAR, Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Portugal
Tired from hitching, I peek into a noisy village bar. The bartender beckons. I enter and there is dead silence. I play the guitar and hell breaks loose.
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-02

 

*******************
ADDENDUM – MY FATIMA WRITINGS
 
Fatima forewarnings – Indonesian tsunami / Peruvian earthquake
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYsCwDgvr74
Fatima messages mutilated by anti-Marians
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/08/eastwind-journals-73
The Miracle of the Healing Oil – the day before typhoon Ondoy
Part 1 The Event – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owykGkNCpIg
Part 2 Testimonials – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlREzytKuSg
Fatima – the Miracle of the Sun (Wikipedia)
Viewed by tens of thousands, this was the greatest omen of the 20th century,
the fresh rain after the thunderstorm, the mercy after the wrath.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun

 

amdg