At long last it came the day when our 103rd Congress took place. Not bad for those who say that Esperanto gets nowhere! In the Atlantic capital, where we enjoyed the warm weather and company of our Esperanto friends whom we met, even if we could no longer get those who unfortunately are not among us any more. Yet, Esperanto progresses.
Though I was already acquainted with the city, my previous visits were only short. However, I was acquainted with Amalia Rodrigues' song Lisboa Antigua:
Lisboa, velha cidade,
Cheia de encanto e beleza!
Sempre a sorrir tão formosa,
E no vestir sempre airosa
O branco véu da saudade
Cobre o teu rosto linda princesa!
Lisbon, old city
Full with charm and beauty!
always smiling so beatifully
and dressing always so elegant.
Your nostalgic veil
covers your princess' face!
So, on July 27th an Esperanto friend came with me into the capital city of Portugal, and after a little pilgrimage we managed to get out of the huge terminal and got a taxi, which took us to our Hotel, which was luxury enough, and yet cheap enought for us. The next day we learnt how to use the Lisbon underground, and we soon arrived at the Congress place, the Law Faculty. We missed the right place, but were not the only ones, as the President of the Universal Esperanto Association himself was there, sitting on the staircase, when we arrived. Suddenly he got a phone call and went away. We followed him and soon the three of us were at the real front desk, in the building where our driver was about to leave us when I stopped him at the wrong place as soon as I saw a huge Esperanto flag where it shouldn't be.
It was the first time I forgot my congress card, and so they had to look my name up in a long list, but before they could find me, I remembered I had joinned together with my friend, so they looked for his number and then there I was, the following one. Once with my congress ID card on me, I started to meet my colleagues and miss those who couldn't make it. I missed some congresses in the recent times, too, and I may miss some in future, and that's why it was a pleasure to meet old friends. On the other hand, some of us complain sometimes on the commercial side of the UEA firm, but a real Esperantist does not care about this money, as we understand that our contribution makes the thing take place, the greatest event about Esperanto in the whole world so that it is evident that Esperanto exists, to our profit, and also it is a way to be main characters in such an importat event in the hisotry of mankind, and certainly of the Esperanto Movement. We should take part if we have money, and shouldn't if we don't have it, but anyway we should support it and learn about it through magazines like Notebooks from the South. Evidently, taking part costs money, but so that happens it is necessary not only to have unpaid volunteers, but also professionals who must be paid.
A Universal Congress is something very dense to tell here in detail, but I can share here my personal impressions as a Congress member on the items which I attended. As you may know, some items take place at the same time, as many as seven, according to my calculations, so you must choose according to your preferences. In fact only the International Fair and the National and International Evenings stood alone, as independent events, so that everyone could attend them.
About the second last, National Evening, I can say that it was not the brightest one I evern saw in my Congress member's life. In fact I left before the end. Heavens, isn't there anything worth seeing in Portugal besides fado? But at least that was respectuful to the audience. I cannot say that about the concert of someone called Plátano (banana): I left the hall when I heard nasty songs, like that by which he wished Shit for Esperanto. You can do some criticism to yourself or the Movement without insulting yourself or those who are listening to you. On the other side of that was Jomo's concert, always so respectful and friendly, who invited us going up onto the scene and dance with him and enjoy the artistic and family atmosphere he created with his wonderful songs and guitar playing. Tens of us reacted to his invitation and ended up with a lot of sweat and happiness because of that magical moment.
I have not taken part in the International Choir for a few years, even if I understand it is a privilege singing in it, but my voice lost strength with age and also taking part means missing other items in the UC, and I always try to attend as many of them as I can. Like the ones at the Book Service room, at the upper floor of which writers presented their own books, like Michael Bronstein (at the left hand side photo). He also sang for us in a concert he produced together with Sergey the Terrible, and since then I can listen to them from the CD I bought them there. However, that visit to the Book Shop was not for free: there I got the news that my almost friend and arguer Josef Semer died six years ago, and I did not know till I saw his name, photo and his two dates on the cover of the book you can see on the right. Yes, it must be that the reason why he no longer comes to our Congresses... Let's pay homage to him and other people who can no longer come..., by buying this book which carefully collected details on him.
It is not possible to tell everything, yes, but I won't fail to mention some specialist meetings, like the one in the photo below, the one of the International Communist Esperanto Collective, led by Dieter Rook, or those by ATEO or MEL (the musicians), the company of which made me feel so well, and where I had the opportunity to contribute with my ideas more than once.