On Strikes and Blessings

Gee, and here I thought the week would end on a quiet, somber and uneventful note! Well, as I write this the sky is blue and the sun is setting. What a day! What a week! My morning began on the usual note, with the looming rain clouds threatening to set the mood for body, soul, and city. Foreboding? Perhaps, and it was no consolation that my Uber driver today was not very conversant, as he spoke only Portuguese and Ukrainian, with a small blue and yellow flag dangling from the rearview mirror. I was itching to rope him into a conversation but my Portuguese isn’t that good yet. Disappointed with myself, I trudged into the office building, only to discover that the subway drivers had gone on strike this morning, which accounted for a lot of late Uber drivers and grumpy taxi drivers around town.

When I reached my desk my day took a turn for the better. A colleague of mine got wind of my love for plants the other day and today there was a large plastic container filled with plant cuttings lovingly wrapped in wet paper towels. It is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have received and it just makes me want to find my new home as soon as possible! My Lisbon jungle is well on its way to creation! The challenge now is to root them and then plant them later on.

It rained the rest of the morning and by the time it was time to call it a day (and week), the sun decided to make an appearance, putting me in a much more buoyant mood. First of all, my NIF number, or Portuguese tax identification number arrived this afternoon, which means I can finally apply for a bank account, a local mobile number and formally proceed with the househunting. Oh my goodness, the possibilities that this NIF number opens up! One more piece of the puzzle falling into place.

I probably should have headed for the coast after work and shot along the boardwalk, but my backpack was full to the brim (the plants plus my lunch containers) so I went home instead. However, when I alighted from the bus, my adventurous feet led me down another path and I ended in the commercial area of my little district. Lisbon is a city with colourful murals on so many buildings. I can’t even call it grafitti because they are stunning works of art. No wonder that there is a walking tour that explores all the unusual art work on the city walls. This is the one I found today.

After getting thoroughly distracted by the cafes, pastry shops, and soakinge vibe, I stumbled on a little knickknack shop that had just about everything 50% off. When I stood at the cashier we had a bit of a language issue. I could hardly believe what I thought she said was the amount due so I asked her in Spanish, but that didn’t work either. When she wrote the number down I was still in shock when I took my coins out to pay. Yes, coins! She laughed at my perplexed look of disbelief. I smiled all throughout my exploration, especially when I found the local florist, although I had to keep an eye out on the pavement. Remember, this is one of the older parts of the city, so the sidewalks are anything but modern… If you run into someone coming from the opposite direction, one of you has to step onto the street, and it gets hairy when there is a car passing beside you just a coat of paint away! Gulp.

When I got home there was a letter stuck in my door. My first letter in Portugal! It turned out to be my police clearance from Germany. Remember my story that I had to file it online last minute? Well the German Justice Department delivered, and it only took them two weeks! Another milestone in the bag. My life here is beginning to take shape and I am feeling very blessed.

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