Wednesday, May 1, 2013

the giant white mule of the sea

Near the edge of a cliff at Cabo Espichel in Sesimbra, stands the stoic Santuário de Nossa Senhora do Cabo, once a sanctuary for pilgrims. A few tourists and a group of geology students were the only other people around, which made the place feel a little less desolate. After wading through clifftop fields of flowers and wild rosemary, this imposing man-made structure made me feel a bit uneasy. There was something in the symmetry and repetition of arches that felt uncomfortable, amid such a natural environment.

Just a stone's throw away, we found a much more charming structure. The onion dome of the Ermida da Memória, or Chapel of Memory, reminded me of a mosque— just add a little minaret and a golden crescent! The chapel's interior tiles illustrate the story of an apparition of the Virgin Mary to two old men in 1410, who both dreamt of the Virgin riding a giant white mule out of the sea, and up the cliff face.

We hopped in the car for a short drive to the next cliff over, where you can see lines of actual footprints across the cliff face. What the men did not realise, was that the impressions in the rock that most likely inspired their dream, were not left by a holy mule, but were the footprints of sauropods from the Upper Jurassic. That's right— dinosaurs!

I had no idea that Portugal is rich with all things dinosaur— tracks and fossils are easily found in the West and the Algarve. This thrilled the eight-year-old within me, and compels me to think a future dinosaur hunting adventure might be in order.

It was at this point, taking the photo above, that my camera started to act a little strange. My trusty Canon G12 would not zoom. I turned it off, then back on. It zoomed, I breathed a sigh of relief, but it refused to let me make any adjustments for light. I clicked it on automatic, which seemed ok, but then it would not focus. Could it be, after only four years? I lamented for the old days, when a camera could be opened up and tinkered with, without having to know anything about all that electronic stuff that cameras are now made of.  I hoped it was a temporary bug, but I suspected my dear camera was preparing to make its exit.


Dan Waters said...

I love your choice of words. I have a special place inside me for that grand word, desolate.

And these images and words remind me of Mark 1:35
a Desolate place to pray...

(images and words is also a great Dream theater album)

dinahmow said...

Dinosaurs! My Man wants to go on a dinosaur dig in Western Queensland, where bones are still being found.

Hope the G10 is OK