Unbelievably, my first week in Lisbon is over and I can hardly believe it. I suppose that’s what happens when you are so caught up in the whirlwind of a new life. As many of you have already surmised, I love my new hometown and everything in it. No city is perfect, and there are certainly ups and downs with every move, but I’ve vowed to savour every moment and that is exactly what I am doing.
Lisbon has rolled out the red carpet for me, with its charm and coquetish hospitality. Every nook and cranny has something to write home about, and if I weren’t working, I would probably be glued to the camera and microblogging. However, Lisboa seems too be under the impression that I am in dire need of cold and wind to feel at home, or at least to make the transition more comfortable. Something was seriously lost in translation between us, and I don’t agree one iota with the fact that I needed to switch on the heater last night.
Before I left Berlin there were two things I procrastinated on and decided I might have more time or better chances in Portugal to take care of them. One was to have my eyeglasses repaired, and second, my MacBook. Well, my after-work adventure yesterday consisted on visiting the Mac repair shop, only to be told what I had already suspected – the repair would not be worth the price I am better off purchasing a new one eventually. Ho hum. Nothing new there, but an indulgence in the Apple Store will have to wait, as I need for first find a permanent home. Am I worried? I harbour no separation anxieties with my MacBook because there are enough workarounds to access my entire iCloud system. There is the iPhone option of couse, while I’m at work but at home it is a piece of cake.
The strain of the new job, new country, new language and culture caught up with me last night and I simply collapsed on the bed, too tired to even FaceTime with my daughter. This morning I woke up and again Lisboa rolled out the water slide instead of the sunny carpet. Gosh dang it, there went my plans for a superb photowalk. No stress though, I opted to invest in my peace of mind instead. I thought delivery service was pretty good in Germany in terms of groceries and food. Ladies and gentlement, I have discovered Glovo Portugal and learned that Germany doesn’t hold a candle to Glovo Portugal! Whatever my little minimart acros the street doesn’t carry I have at my fingertips thanks to this incredible network of restaurants, supermarkets, florists, plant shops, gift shops, clething stores, and so one. There is very little Glovo doesn’t do, in fact they even play courrier service for you, delivering your documents around the city without having to battle it out at the post office. Let me digress here and say how impressed I am that Portugal takes its climate change commitment seriously. I have yet to sign a harcopy document in this coutry. Everything has been digital, with electronic signatures, and transacted via video conference. It’s fascinating.
A hot meal was the only thing on my mind last night, as I have been surviving on sandwhiches, fruit, salads, sardines, and ramen. Yup, dorm life 2.0 or should I say 2022. So my way of celebrating the end of a very full but successful first week was the iconic grilled bacalhau. Some claim that this cod is the national fish of Portugal but others will dispute this and vehemently deny it. But if you are step foot any, and I mean any restaurant that seves Portuguese cuisine, the bacalhau is omnipresent. The irony of the matter is that this particular cod is actually Norwegian in origin. I guess it wasn’t just humans who found the nordic winds and waters too much and yearned for the warmer and milder peninsular climes. A feast of bacalhau and rice, with a generous side of olives and tomato salad and I was in heaven! Oh yes, this is definitely my town.
When moving to a new place, there are two things that define my definite arrival and planting of new roots: a new first aid kit or medicine cabinet and plants. Well, a week was far too long to go without plants, so as of today I have two new roomies:
As you can see, I have a peace lily (spatiphyllum) again, or Lirio de Paz as it is called here, and the second one is a plant I have never taken care of before. It’s called the Happiness Tree here in Portugal, or a Arvore de Felecidade (Polyscia). As you can see, I have my mini altar set up as well, There is a story to each of the elements there.
The Infant Jesus of Prague that you see in the image was given as a gift to my parents many years ago. Mommy couldn’t remember by whom anymore, but when I moved into the flat above them in 2016, she removed her treasured Santo Niño and brought it up to me. It travelled with me to Berlin in 2017 and watched over me there. It is part of a set of three items that form part of my complete altar, the other two (Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Jude) will follow, but I refused to move without carrying the Santo Niño at the very least.
The amethyst cluster you see dates back to my childhood days in Mexico. The stone used to have a marble base and sat on my father’s offic desk most of the time. We used to have a joint collection of semi-precious stones that we picked up in various cities around Mexico over the years that we lived in the country. At some point he handed down the entire collection and the amethyst has moved around with me ever since.
The rose quartz I picked up in India, in the hope of having a good night’s sleep. It hasn’t always done its job, but it seems to found a second wind here in Lisbon and I’ve been sleeping well, albeit the lively hostel life that never seems to simmer down. The Feng Shui fortune tree was given to me this past Christmas and has been showering me with blessings ever since. The aquamarine coloured crystal you see I purchased in a Feng Shui shop in India, and it has a twin with a horse (a must for anyone with an office) which of course sits on my desk at work. Speaking of which:
What’s in the red pouch? A combination of prosperity items including a jade elephant, and some Feng Shui stones for concentration and good fortune. Now, about Mr. Frog… he was given to me as a farewell gift back in 2006 when I left Berlin the first time. He has since travelled with me to Manila, New Delhi, Bangkok, back to Berlin and now Portugal, witsessing many a new beginning and never failing to bring me luck and a smile. If you recall, this is also the frog that was featured with me for the Professional Photographers Association magazine.
Last Saturday was all about leaving and closing a chapter. This Saturday it is all about arriving and setting up shop. Sooner, rather than later, I hope to be setting up my permanent residence and be moving away from the hostel life for good, although I did just extend my stay by two weeks today. Stay tuned!