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Saranjan Tours

Travel in Spain and Portugal

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007



Belenes, Christmas creches, are not unique to Spain and Portugal but the ones we saw this year were impressive. In Granada, booths were selling all the pieces—angels, the Virgin, Baby Jesus and even sausage makers under the palm trees. In Sevilla, small children toured the Belenes at nightfall as the lights illuminated Plaza Nueva and the great Cathedral built on the foundations of the 10th c mosque.

Across the border in Portugal, we came upon a rather special Belen in the village of Monsaraz--life size papier mache camels mounted by the Three Wise Men, shepherds, sheep and donkeys, all processing down the village’s main street, past the woman at the well and beggars on the church steps, towards Baby Jesus where He lay in a manager overlooked by an old Moorish tower lit with a star. This vision set the mood for our overnight in an convent in the Alentejo mountains where we were the only guests. And the next day as we drove through the Alentejo towards Lisbon, we came upon the real thing—all the village children gathering in the central praca and dressed for their part. There were shepherds with live lambs, three wise men, village women…and watching over the angels, Joseph, Mary and a real live Baby Jesus stood a very patient mule.

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