Originally published 07/10/2013
CABANAS DE VIRIATO, Portugal — Lee Sterling knew that his sister had not survived the harrowing journey 73 years ago that allowed him and his parents to escape Nazism by traveling from their home in Brussels to Lisbon and eventually on to New York.He was just 4 years old and is barely able to recall her now, but after consulting Portuguese archives, he found that his sister, Raymonde Estelle, had spent six weeks in a hospital before dying of septicemia, at age 7. “I hadn’t cried in years, but when I found out, I just couldn’t stop,” he said.Mr. Sterling, who lives in California, was among 40 people who made an emotional pilgrimage last month to retrace their families’ pasts. They also wanted to pay homage to the man who saved their lives: Aristides de Sousa Mendes....
Originally published 03/26/2013
The view from Macau Fortaleza do Monte. Credit: Wiki Commons.One of the most memorable dates I have ever had was on the walls of a seventeenth-century fort. Located on a small lush hill in the middle of a Chinese city, in the September rain you could see and smell the warm waters of the tropical ocean. The cannons evoke the first Iberian intrusions into Asia, when southern European sailors -- essentially pirates or middlemen plying the lucrative trade between much larger Asian countries -- were the first Europeans to set foot in the country. To the south the powerful Malay sultanate of Melaka, a tributary state of the Ming, was the first to fall. Further east the Portuguese attempt to proselytize Japan -- resisted violently by the archipelago's warrior rulers -- also left deep marks on that country’s history. In Macau, the latest addition to China’s territory, Asia's mostly forgotten encounter with Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries finds beautiful expression in the city's forts and baroque architecture.