Going The Distance Is Worth It (Part I)

I stopped questioning the Universe’s intentions with my life a long time ago and just go with the flow. There are moments when the lessons to be learned are tougher than I expected, and others when I stop and shake my head in wonder. Today was one such day. I got up early, packed my the last toiletries into my last suitcases and closed it. Translation: I knelt on the case so that I could snap the locks shut and then locked it. It was only when I checked out and was about to put my luggage in storage at the hostel that I realised I had packed the room key. Well gosh darn it, of all the things to mess with! because the suitcase it was in had a jammed lock and no matter what I did it just wouldn’t open. Since it was time to leave for work there was no time whatsoever to fiddle around with anything anymore, so I simply informed the manager that I had to return in the evening to collect my luggage anyway, so I would deal with the key then.

That said, I headed to work with one of the most charming drivers ever: a retired captain of a commercial marine vessel who got tired of maneuvering boats and decided to stay on land for a change and become a real estate broker of sorts. With his savings from his seafaring days, he began buying up formerly seized properties that had defaulted on their payments during Portugal’s economic crisis. He bought them for a song, rennovated and rented them out, by which time they had trippled in value due to the current migration wave into the country. It was fascinating to listen to and he gave me some interesting tips on areas to look for a home.

While I was at work, the jammed suitcase lock was constantly on my mind and I knew that I could pry it open if I could get my hands on a screwdriver and a hammer. So I asked a colleague who drives to work whether he had tools in his car. The look I got in response cracked me up, especially when he thought he misunderstood me. When I explained that I was in need of a hammer, he lost it and burst out laughing. I could bring you one tomorrow he said, I have a camera in the car but not a hammer. Is it too German of me to expect drivers to have tools in the car? Or is it because I was raised by an engineer who never allowed me to take the car out without ensuring that I had a basic set of tools together with a spare canister of oil and brake fluid?

Long story short, I made my way back to the hostel, asked the manager for a hammer and a screw driver and up we went to the luggage. He sat comfortably on the sofa and watched me while I went to work with the tools. Voila! I had the case open in less than three minutes. That being the final act before finally leaving the hostel after six long weeks, I made may way down to the waiting Uber. This time my driver was a lovely Angolan who was happy to chat and tell me stories during the long drive out to Vila Franca de Xira. This quaint little town belonging to the greater Lisbon area is bloody far, and for a moment (or two) I thought I was already half way to Porto already, or well on my way to Spain. But once we arrived, I was immediately charmed by the small town atmosphere along the river.

My new room is a major upgrade from the hostel. Wow, I was rendered speechless and feel as though I landed in a five-star residence. The difference is like day and night, and I can truly breathe with serenity. I have space, beautiful light, no longer have to run up one flight of stairs to go to the bathroom, nor will I have to wash my clothes by hand anymore either. OK, the down side is that the commute to work is going to be a killer, but considering it is a straight train with a scenic view, I don’t mind at all.

As I write this, every bone in my body aches, but I feel as though I arrived in a place where I can finally claim a slice of heaven. Stay tuned!

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