Wednesday, June 26, 2013

From Portugal to Africa

The largest challenge to this blog so far, has not been the writing as I anticipated, but finding an internet connection!  So to catch you up, here is what I have been writing for the past few days...

Leaving Portugal was not easy. The last nights there were Friday and Saturday and the city was alive until the early hours of the morning. On Friday night we walked to the nearby park with a bottle of red wine. All Portuguese varietals of course, that were juicy and delicious and only cost around four Euros, making guzzling it straight out of the bottle appropriate. As more and more people arrived to the park we toasted to our fellow Friday night partiers. Then the crowd stood up and went silent. Two flares shot into the air and boats began to blow their horns in the harbor below. Then church bells from all over town started to ring in the key of C. The cacophony rang over the harbor for about three minutes and the faces of the crowd glowed in the light of the full moon. Then, the noise stopped, the crowed applauded and began to disperse. We had to laugh, because we had no idea of what had just happened. Piqued by uncontrollable curiosity I asked a Portuguese couple about what we had just witnessed. They explained that it was a random Lisbon event, that they had only heard of hours before. We had hit it just right, a small taste of unplanned magic.

Saturday night was even more festive. Walking around the old part of the city after dining on some rather strong and salty cuddle fish at a makeshift outdoor BBQ joint, we stopped to listen to three distinct bands in various plazas. Fado, punk rock and alternative rock bands all drew a dancing, drinking crowd. We stopped in at a pastry shop for a baked apple wrapped in pastry dough and an espresso to top off dinner. How, I wondered, were the women so beautiful and skinny with this kind of gastronomic gluttony at their fingertips? I didn't want to head back to the hotel, because it was our last night in Lisbon, but tragically we had work to do and a flight to catch in the morning. Lisbon on a Saturday night was vibrant and packed with people partying in the streets. The streetcleaners were brushing up the mayhem the next morning as we headed to the Metro station that would take us to the airport, not long after most of the crowd had just gone to sleep.


 Ten hours later we touched down in Johannesburg. A thick mist, tinted red with illumination from the drawn greeted us as the plane screeched to a halt on the runway. I must admit, I wasn't able to sleep much. The anticipation and the cramped middle seat kept me from resting my head and my leg muscles.  One more three hour flights and we will be in Lilongwe, Malawi.