Saturday, June 3, 2017

Eric Conway: After over a week of successful concerts in Spain, the Morgan State University Choir travels to Portugal today

Dr. Eric Conway writes:
Hello all,

After over a week of successful concerts in Spain, we travel to Portugal today. One big decision was whether to go to another completely different region in Spain - the beautiful Barcelona region in the north of Spain with a heavy French influence, or go to Portugal, for a relatively short look at totally different culture.  We decided to sing in Portugal. This may be our only opportunity for us ever visit Portugal and share the music of the Morgan State University choir with this country, given the relative small size of the country.  And yes, Portugal is a much different look at the Iberian/Andalusian region with some history that is quite significant for an HBCU.  We left this morning for Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal.  

We had a six hour drive to Portugal in total with a layover in Lagos on the southern coast of the country after three hours.  Currently, Lagos’ main industry is tourism, with many persons in Europe traveling to this community for their beautiful beaches and restaurants.  If we were to sail a ship directly East of Lagos, we might end up in New York City!  

Lagos for us was significant, due to being the country that introduced slavery from Africa to Europe.  Historically, Lagos was the center of the Portuguese renaissance due to acquiring great wealth due to their slave trade.  Sailors from Lagos were the first to reach the coast of Western Africa and bring back 244 slaves to Lagos in 1444.  The rest is history!   The sailors in Lagos were the first to be enthusiastic slave-catchers!    

Although we did not have time, we saw a Portuguese slave museum sharing the story of the first slaves in Europe - Mercado de Escravos (slave market).  Lagos had one of the largest slave markets in all of Europe.  We all chuckled when our guides asked us all to meet after lunch at the slave market! He had no idea what he was saying to African Americans.

We had an additional three hour drive to Lisbon.  After checking into our last hotel, within an hour we were on our way to dinner and with limited sightseeing in the city.

Our excellent guide Kike Mantecón was leaving us after a week to pass us along to the Lisbon local guide, Teresa.  Although the languages of Spanish and Portuguese are certainly similar, they are enough differences that he could not lead in Portugal.  He was very knowledgeable and interacted with us with wonderful humor.  We found out that along the trip that he was a big Michael Jackson fan!  Prior to arriving in Lisbon, he said his goodbyes to the group, and proceeded to sing us a tribute - a Michael Jackson song - I’ll Be There!  We all appreciated his spirit and hope that he will visit Morgan State when he comes to the U.S. in August to see the 2017 complete lunar eclipse.  At the hotel he gave me a book, in Spanish of course, which tells of his excursions to India, Nepal and Tibet - which you may acquire at Amazon!

We have been traveling hard for ten days now and are all getting a little weary.  Tomorrow we will see the main points in Lisbon, sing our only concert in Lisbon, and prepare for departure home.


P.S. See link below to our Seville Concert where I attempted to speak in Spanish - you might find entertaining - especially if you speak a little Spanish!

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