By Paula Ramos

They say the Portuguese are a peaceful people and I believe so, because this year we have been put to the test in some situations.

At the beginning of the year, we followed on TV a conflicting situation between taxi drivers. We saw nervous and angry men arguing and a very uptight police force. I was bewildered by the violence and I felt embarrassed with some repulsive and obnoxious words heard. Luckily everything turned out well – the power of dialogue.

In May, Pope Francisco came to Portugal to celebrate the centenary of the appearances of N. Sra. Fátima to the shepherds and their beatification. The Pope is a very kind and delightful man and showed a thankful smile throughout the stay. People were eager about the Pope’s arrival but were obedient and calm respecting the authorities. The ceremonies were very beautiful and everything went well. We enjoyed the Pope’s stay but were relieved when he left. We were concerned about the possibility of incidents.

On May 13, Salvador Sobral won the European Song Festival. He was victorious and we were proud of him. The winning song was about love. It was a gorgeous song. I was thrilled and eager with an itchy sensation that this song would be the winner. Salvador is a jolly man and all of us were very happy. It was an amazing victory for our country. It was the first time we won this Song Festival.

Last June, a huge fire in Pedrogão Grande, in the centre of the country, was a tragedy. Many trees were burned and 64 people died. The TV reports of the fire were awful. We saw helpless people becoming panicky as the fierce fire approached their homes. I was fearful and worried about them. The roads became scary places with fire on both sides and the black smoky sky, the heat and the unbreathable air. The fireman made a brave work controlling the flames and the gigantic fire was extinguished a week later.

It was nice of the President to give some appreciative words to the firemen.

Psychologists tried to calm people with their soothing voices.

Unfortunately, it was thoughtless of some people trying to rob the houses of people who fled the fire. A week later, musicians gathered at a concert to raise money for the evicted people and authorities are studying new fire prevention measures. The causes of the fire remain mysterious.

We’ve had a whirlwind of feelings.

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