Trumpets and drums resound in the center of Caranguejeira, a small town of barely 5,000 inhabitants, located about ten kilometers from Fatima. Like the greatest dignitaries, the 130 participants from the diocese of Albi were received with fanfare on the evening of July 26. After 19 hours of bus, the reception is rather welcome. “It’s touching to see them so involved,” says Father Jean-Baptiste Crépin, diocesan delegate for WYD. Very quickly, the few hundred young people – including 40 minors – and their companions (priests, nuns and lay people) met their families who hosted them for five nights.
Here, the Portuguese warmly embrace their guests, as if they have known each other for years. Albertino and Dolinda, both 82 years old, perfectly embody this hospitality. With contagious smiles and laughing looks, the retired couple embarked, in their house overlooking the village, three young French people as well as Father Emeric Akpovo, one of the supervisors.
Coffee and hot chocolates
In the early morning, around a coffee for the priest and a hot chocolate for the teenagers, the conversations are going well. The host shares snippets of his past: the inhabitants who washed their clothes in the river, which has since become a leisure base where young French people have bathed; the watermills that bordered the river; the small wine producers that have now disappeared…
Mayeul, 17, doesn’t lose a beat. “It’s much more rewarding to be immersed in families,” he says. But you have to leave quickly, the program is dense during these few days: discovery of Portuguese songs, treasure hunt, tasting of local specialties such as the famous grilled pork or Bacalhau, a dish made with cod. And above all: a 17 km pilgrimage to Fatima, starting on Friday, before sunrise!
Throughout the stay, the joy of the young French and Portuguese is overflowing. We notice it in the bursting laughter, in the groups that mingle and exchange anecdotes about their culture…
If the euphoria marked the stay, remains a point of tension between young French and Portuguese… Football! On the fourth day, on the way to the municipality of Leira, the young Portuguese begin to tease by starting the national anthem. The bus has just passed in front of a statue of Rui Patricio, goalkeeper of the club born in Leiria but also of the national team. In 2016, the Portuguese player stopped a decisive goal from Antoine Griezmann, offering the Euro Football Cup to Portugal! Enough to make our young French JMJists cringe, who immediately sing the Marseillaise at the top of their voices in revenge. But this friendly dispute in no way taints the complicity of the two teams.
As Albertino reminded his hosts: “My house is your house. A welcome lesson that they immediately learned. The invitation has already been issued for next year. It is now up to them to welcome the octogenarian couple.