I was just too zonked out last night to write about my travails. Re-integrating into the workforce after a year of enjoying the luxury of getting up late is a difficult habit to shake, no matter how motivated I may be. Nevertheless, when I can wake up to sunshine, cheerful chatter on the cobbled streets below, I truly count my blessings.
So here I am, on Day 4 of my relocation to Lisbon, which also happens to be Ash Wednesday. How fitting, that I begin Lent in prayer and contemplation in Portugal, while attempting to extract the marrow of life in every possible way. I lived like a hermit in Berlin, and I realise now how much of my true nature was buried in the process. It is disconcerting at times to be in constant communication here, the whole day in fact, and although the adjustment will take a while, it is strangely not painful.
Normally you can’t get a monthly bus pass here without your NIF, or the fiscal number. In fact, you can’t get a damn thing here without it, so everything in on hold until that comes through. My mobile bill is going to be phenomenal this month, but there is nothing that can be done until I am allowed to get a local number. Oh well. Anyway, back to the bus pass… after work last night I dropped by the little minimart across the street from the hostel. The shopkeeper was as solicitous as ever and was excited to find out that I was born in the Philippines. He then proceeded to tell me a little more of his own journey to Portugal, and how happy he is here after seven dreary years in London. “How can I help you adjust more? What do you need? Do you have a bus pass already?” Amused at the litany of questions, I fielded them all while hunting for cheese and sardines in his little store. By the time I paid my bill, he had pulled out a stack of bus passes that you can top up as you ? “You have a NIF number? No? No problem.” And just like that, I am now the proud owner of a fully loaded bus pass! Oh and last night’s complimentary fruit were two plums.
When I first went to Paris back in the mid 1990s, one of the things that struck me was that there was hardly a car without a dent there. Then I watched how the Parisians dealt with parking, especially parallel parking. If your car doesn’t quite fit, then bump the car behind you and the one in front until you squeeze your car in. Horror of horrors! I witnessed the same in Spain but it wasn’t as crass as Paris. Ah, but yesterday morning, while on my way to work, I witnessed a delivery van parking in front of its shop, and it took the driver several bumps to the car in front and even more to the car behind him. The alarms of both cars went off but it didn’t seem to bother anyone. I burst out laughing and my Uber driver laughed along with me, telling me that unfortunately this awful habit has meandered into Lisbon as well. I guess I will seriously reconsider buying a car here…