Saturday, November 24, 2012

Upon landing in Lisbon, we were to rendezvous with our tour guide. When I spotted her, I let her know that I needed to get a SIM card for my iPhone. "Make it quick," was all she said. I wasn't able to.

Ideally, I would have picked up the SIM card somewhere in the colossal Frankfurt Airport when there was time between flights. However, I was so concerned about, first, getting through customs and then getting to my gate that then I was too far away from any shops. I mean, I think I would have had to walk back to the other terminal. So not an option.

There were only two staff people in the Vodafone at the Lisbon Airport when I stepped inside the booth, both were serving other customers. But I did my best to show my impatience and even interrupted one salesperson whose transaction seemed to have moved into a casual conversation. How would I know, right? The young lady freed up before the gentlemen did but she seemed nervous about her English and the technology. I allowed her to insert the SIM card for me and a good thing, too: she had to cut it to make it fit. Then I allowed her to configure the phone to use the SIM. She tried to show me the phone number but I was only going to use Facebook and an instant messaging app. I'm glad that I added another 10 € to the prepaid card because I drained it just as I arrived at Lourdes two days before returning home.1

All this buying and configuring took too long, of course, and the tour guide had taken everyone outside to board the tour bus. One lady stayed behind with my suitcase which I appreciated very much. She remained there and I stepped outside the airport to see what I could see. Only tour bus after tour bus. So I waited in sight of the other woman who said the tour guide would return for us. And she did along with Father who gave me grief for holding up everyone else. I told him it would not happen again and that I was very grateful to be able to keep in touch with my husband and four young kids who were coping with post-Sandy conditions in Monmouth County, NJ. I mean, what's a couple of minutes for that?

When I reached the tour bus, there was a commotion. A couple were being asked to leave the bus. They retrieved their luggage from underneath just as I was approaching with my suitcase. I waited on the sidewalk until I was sure the driver would put my suitcase in the cargo area, then I boarded and took an empty seat behind Father and his sister, Sister Brenda. I learned later that the couple had boarded the wrong bus and I believe that their departure opened up such a prime seat for me, very near the front of the bus. I sat there the entire tour, joined by someone on only one occasion and Father gave her such a chewing out for her hours and hours of senseless chatter that no one else dared sit so close to him, with me, again. The tour guide suggested that we switch up our seats from time to time but even when I boarded the bus last, my second row seat was available. Since I can get motion sick, it's probably a good thing I sat in front.

I allowed myself to try out the SIM card on the bus ride to Fátima, scanning Facebook for news. I don't have a smartphone in real life, so I'm not actually addicted. The complaints of my friends on Facebook were my primary source of news throughout the trip on how things were going post-Sandy. Someone on the bus cautioned me to "Remember the time difference!" thinking I was making a phone call. But it was 12:30 and the East Coast was only four hours behind, so a call would have been reasonable. We recovered an hour between Germany and Portugal and Daylight Savings Time had not yet ended in the U. S. However, I suspected quite correctly that no such services like telephone or electric were yet available again in New Jersey.

Our hotel in Fátima was within walking distance of the holy sites. We checked in and walked over there for our tour with a local guide. It was raining off and on and when it wasn't, a full rainbow graced the sky behind the old church. I posted a picture to Facebook.

Next post in the series: "When you enter the shrine at Fátima ..."

1 Fortunately, our hotel in Lourdes had free WiFi but that's another story in itself.

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