Saturday, 27 October 2018

Travel. Bonding. Forces of nature. Freedom of speech.

We were met at the airport yesterday by a Portuguese gentleman, connected in some way I am unsure of with the chess event that Phil is playing in, whose name I still do not know, despite his having picked us up three times, at least. He greets us like old friends. No need for a laminated sheet with our name on.

He tells me something in a stream of Portuguese. Gradually I work out that he has to pick up someone else, a Cuban chess player, and that we need to wait. He has great faith in my Portuguese, and thinks I understand and speak more than I really do. Phil says it may be that I am almost the only person who speaks to him, in the sense of making conversation, when he collects them from the airport, and certainly the only one who tries to communicate in Portuguese! In any case, we have clearly bonded and swap photos of our respective delightful grandchildren.

We collect the Cuban, Rodney García something or other. (South and Central Americans and Cubans often have unlikely names, a curious mix of Anglo-European and and Hispanic.) And we set off for Figueira.

En route the driver points out places that suffered from the hurricane a couple of weeks ago. Huge trees are bent and broken, snapped as if made of straw. Behind our hotel is a paço, a kind of stately home, the Sotto Maior. The gardens are also full of bent and broken mature trees. Nature is a powerful force when she gets going.

Back in the UK I have left unfinished a library book, Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver. The story revolves around migrating Monarch butterflies that end up in the USA instead of Mexico. One of the consequences of global warming, climate change or whatever else some people do not believe in. The power of nature!

It’s not just butterflies that are on the move. There are thousands of Hondurans, also some of them with odd names, trekking their way to the USA, believing that Donald Trump will have a change of heart and let them in.

We are going to see are of this, of course. Between conflicts zones and areas of desertification more and more people are going to be seeking somewhere else to live. Will they be allowed in? 

Meanwhile, if your name is Tommy Robinson, who should not in my opinion be given houseroom anywhere, you can find yourself invited to lunch at the House of Lords - I think it was lunch - and now to speak to Congress in the USA.

Oh, yes, he has freedom of speech, as should everyone, but still he should not be encouraged!

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