Random Lisbon moment

Posted by sue on August 9th, 2008

This is Jordan Estêvão, who, despite the Portuguese name with all the crazy accents, is an American and one of my fellow English teachers.

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I like this photo because it’s unusual in a couple of ways. First, Jordan is wearing glasses, which is unusual for him because he normally wears contacts. Second, he has, most atypically, the miniature head of Len’s capoeira master, Mestre Nilson, growing out of his chest.

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Pretty Places in Portugal, III

Posted by sue on August 7th, 2008

Behold, the walled village of Óbidos.

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It’s one of those places, like Sevilla in Spain, where you can tell they really work to keep it cute. I mean, they must hose it down with cuteness at least weekly! There’s a wall all around the city that you can walk on top of, giving you a good vantage point from which to observe all the cuteness. The town is called “the Wedding City” because it was the traditional bridal gift of the kings of Portugal to their queens, a tradition going back to 1282.

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We’re going to London!

Posted by sue on August 6th, 2008

We just got plane tickets from Lisbon to London for August 27 to September 2! Then I come back here for my final teaching term, starting September 8. Yay!

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Pretty Places in Portugal, II

Posted by sue on August 6th, 2008

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We went camping a couple of weeks ago at Praia de Galé, on the Alentejo coast (about halfway between Setúbal and Sines) where a friend has a camper, and this was the scene, just a 5 minute walk from the campsite.

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Game night

Posted by sue on August 5th, 2008

Did you know you can make Scrabble into a drinking game? Well, let’s just say that this was an awesome party–still memorable as a favorite Lisbon moment months later. Too bad the neighbors called the cops!

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The Edge of it All

Posted by sue on August 4th, 2008

To cap off a road trip we did a few weeks ago in a rental car, we drove with a couple of friends out to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in Europe. It’s not all that far west of Lisbon, though the road to get there is pretty sickness-inducing for the delicate-stomached (don’t know anyone like that…). It’s notable for how cold and windy it is out there at the edge, even in July, so we just watched the sunset and took a few photos then retreated to the warmth of the car and then the further warmth of an Italian restaurant in Cascais.

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The quote on the marker here, “Aqui… onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa…” means simply, “Here… where the land ends and the sea begins…” Yeah, kind of obvious? This quote is attributed to Luis Camões, venerated Portuguese poet–The Rough Guide to Portugal quips that here his muse, for once it seems, deserted him.

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Pretty Places in Portugal

Posted by sue on August 4th, 2008

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Does your country have random medieval Knights Templar castles built in the middle of rivers that are accessible only by small boat? Didn’t think so!

(This is Castelo de Almourol, in the Ribatejo region near Constância.)

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Our stove

Posted by sue on August 2nd, 2008

Since we left the U.S. in October of 2006, all the stoves we’ve had have required a lighter or a match to light them– they simply haven’t had electric ignition or pilot lights. And we went for about a year without a working oven, so we did all our cooking on the stove top.

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This is our current stove, which is a pretty new one because our landlord replaced the old one when we told her the oven didn’t work. So we have a working oven now, which isn’t something everyone has here (in the low end apartments that we and our friends occupy), but there are a couple of strange things about it. First, to light it, you have to turn the knob to high, and push it in for about 5 seconds, then light it with the stove lighter, and continue holding in the knob for 8 seconds or so before releasing it. Weird! I suppose it’s a safety against the gas being turned on accidently without the stove actually being lit. The other odd thing about the oven is that is doesn’t have a thermostat to maintain a set temperature. Like the burners on top, there are just symbols for low and high. But, if the fire maintains a set level, the oven will get hotter and hotter as time passes, so it’s rather tricky to actually bake something. We bought an oven thermometer in the U.S. (need degrees in Fahrenheit!) but we still have to adjust the knob as things bake to avoid burning.

We do occasionally make chocolate chip cookies in our crazy oven. But another weird thing– it’s Len who makes them now, not me!

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Blogust

Posted by sue on August 2nd, 2008

For those two or three of you who have lamented our virtual abandonment of this blog, good news! I’m not working for the whole month of August, and have vowed to post 15 blog entries during the month, to share with you the details of Portugal living that I have, up to now, cruelly withheld from my eager readership.

I’ve decided to begin with coming clean about a few things I’m embarrassed about. portugues.jpg

First item on the list: Portuguese. This is the cover of a Portuguese language textbook. I’ve owned this book since sometime in the fall, and have yet to finish working through it. My Portuguese is terrible. I mean, really, really, embarrassingly terrible, even after 15 months of living here. I can order food, and coffee, and drinks of various kinds, and sometimes understand miscellaneous things that are said to me, but I’m still really a beginner at the language. Not sure what to do now– study really hard these last couple of months, to end with a feeling of accomplishment? Or give up, thinking that I’ve lived here this long operating mostly in English, so surely I can carry on this way until I leave?

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My Big Break

Posted by len on July 5th, 2008

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Look at those winning feet!
Three weeks ago it was starting to warm up in Lisbon.
One afternoon…one like any other…I was walking around the apartment barefoot.
Coming from the dining room into the kitchen I had to move through a relatively narrow space between our dining table and the wall.
Then occurred the stubbing. Damn that hurt! Stubbing my toe, which I’ve done countless times in my life, is incredibly painful. I’ve never understood how such a repeatable, temporary, short-term pain could be so intense.
Well, after “cursing a Finnish cottage” (Lisbon’s version of ‘cursing a blue streak’) I casually glanced down at my feet, even though, of course, I had just stubbed my toe so…what was there to see?
This image, minus the expensive digital graphics, is what I saw. And it was weird. Why is my toe pointing the wrong direction? Oh God! I just broke my toe!!!
First thing I’ve ever broke! I actually text-messaged every friend whose number I have in Lisbon and ‘announced’ it. I was oddly proud.
Well, 3 weeks later and I can walk easily and feel a little dull pain in the area after I’ve been on my feet for a while.
Never went to the doctor. From what I’ve heard they can’t do much for you anyway. I did tape the toe to a nearby toe for the first week as per a scene near the end of Blade Runner when Harrison Ford breaks a finger.

An Extra Bit on Bunions
Apparently those are bunions on my feet. I didn’t know this for most of my life. This is just how my feet have always looked, as far as I can remember. But most people don’t have that angular big toe action going on. And I guess these “bunions” hurts some people and they have expensive surgery to ‘remove’ them. I can’t even imagine how that’s possible. I don’t think they hurt me, unless I’m always suffering a ‘background bunion pain’ that I’m no longer aware of and just explains why I like to tip the bottle from time to time.

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