Best Part of Traveling is Making Friends – Southern Portugal

Entry 3 Southern Portugal: Faro 8 May 2018

I am blessed with a great traveling partner Zoe who is also gregarious and multilingual. Though we may not be masters linguists, wherever we go we try our 50 word vocabulary for each country. That is with the exception of Japan, Hungarian, and Basque… we are lucky maybe a dozen words. We can navigate our way easily around the globe, now with the blessing of our GPS, and with a rolling suitcases, a guitar, and a voracious curiosity we engage the world. It is a joy to travel to southern Portugal.  And to mutilate another language.  I am chatting with the driver in my fake Portuguese, which is really my Spanish with a Portuguese accent, and he is chatting back to me in Portuguese with a Spanish accent. I should have tape recorded it. Yet, we seem like we knew exactly what we were talking about… more or less. The local folks are shocked and grateful that any of the foreigners make an effort. I was chatting with the maid this morning. She was Ukrainian, lived in the USA, spoke Ukrainian accented Portuguese, and  we were chatting in a wonderful goulash of Russian/ Ukrainian, English, Portuguese, and my bad attempt at Portuguese. It was a veritable United Nations!  Zoe and I love the goulash of languages. As I had said, I always thought i had a career as an international comedian, because whenever I spoke another language people would laugh. I assumed it was because i was funny — no, it is the way i mutilate languages!

Tennis at Algovare Tennis Club – Last night at the local tennis club. A Ukrainian, French, English, Canadian, and such. Tennis was in French, a dash of Portuguese, English, and “Good shot.”  Lovely group of guys. All about the same level low to high 4.0.  Very even tempered no one gets upset.  Love tennis that way. About 10 Euros and a glass of beer. There Thursday night tennis.  Traveling around the globe I could not imagine a better way to meet folks. 

Faro – Half Hour from our hotel. The small medieval town on the southern coast.  We caught a wonderful surprise of a Fado Music show for an hour as soon as we got out of the taxi and we were transported into the world of the Fado – the traditional music of Portugal.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-5px6ytiA4 

Faro that has been inhabited since prehistoric times, from the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, and Moors Centuries after centuries woven together this ancient city now obscured by the modern artifice. The so many layering of the city. Imperceptible where generations of people would meet and eat, make love, make babies, fight argue and create this city. This city of the impossible geometry of life now with the layering of modernity.  But here in the 12th century with its cobbled lanes, reeking of sewer and waste, reeking and the gutter and sewage of waste.  But none of the smells of a community are here. In this tourist spot on the southern coast of Portugal, all of this has been scrubbed clean. 

There was a group of college aged kids in a pseudo Mardi gras procession, drinking, pouring wine on each other, chugging wine, half naked, and pretending they were in the Animal House movie.  After having spent several winters in New Orleans, the pseudo debauchery was entertaining.  Their mind would be blown by the real thing and a night on Frenchmen’s street.

The great joy of travel often times is the people that you meet on the road. Last night dinner with two German women Erica and Sandra, at Bistro 31 at a downtown plaza. We had space at our table. invited them in, and they had arrived late. We had food on the table and we shared it. They first were uncomfortable, Germans are reserved! But then because we are so gregarious they found it much easier to chat with us. They are both travel junkies though they work full-time jobs. Sandra and Erica shared stories of their travels in South America and in Tibet. We shared stories of our travels and shared tips on Portugal. Then after sunset we came back to our hotel. A full afternoon of sights and travels.

That Friday over to Centenario for Fado Music. Get there early to get the best seat especially if you want to hear and see the musicians.  The singers were marvelous though we didn’t understand a word. A bit like the Gritando singers of Spain with their wailing flamenco songs. And the vegetarian paella was delicious.

Tomorrow on our way to Lisbon and Italy. I was in Lisbon as a child in 1960 and have clear memories despite the 58 years that have passed.  Lisbon was a fraction of what it was. Many of the older women dressed in black. Today it is a stylish European city with pizzazz and  Fado music.  I am looking forward to explore more of the remote northern parts of Portugal on our next trip.  Not enough time here to dig into the people and cultural, but we got a delightful taste.

Making Friends and Music on the Road

Sitting in the garden

Playing guitar and the groundskeeper

Came by and smiled…

I teach him a simple

Flamenco chord and

The steady rhythm of 4/4

His face is beaming like

A little child in front of

A huge ice cream.

 

Countless others around

The globe have

Offered me feasts of

Music and poetry,

And today I give

My new friend

A generous helping.

 

Tomorrow at his

House… a vegetarian feast,

Music, poetry, story,

And dance.

 

Traveling around

The globe making

Friends with music.

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