The word tranquilo is something I associate with my childhood in Mexico and it reverberates in my soul at a very deep level. I suppose the modern and more sacriligeous transmogrification of this concept (because tranquilo is more than just a word, it is a philosophy) would be hakuna matata… keep calm, no worries. There was a NatGeo ad that came out some years ago that illustrates this perfectly, and I’ll tell you why I am bringing all this up in a moment.
I dislike the word gringo, but if you ignore that, the ad describes to perfection what adventure and travel are all about. As you can well imagine, when I stepped into the German culture, the word tranquilo was replaced by ordnung (order) in my life, and became the marching tune to which I built my life on and ran my household.
It took my life falling apart completely for me to ditch the word ordnung and go in seach of another word. My word. I thought it was Frog, or even FrogDiva, but then I landed in Portugal and re-discovered tranquilo from a very existential perspective. The Portuguese interpretation, of this philosophy is a dignified relaxed attitude with generous doses of charm and hospitality, emphasis on the word dignified. Many of my Uber drivers used tranquilo to describe (their) life in Portugal, regardless of they were Portuguese, naturalised, or immigrants. Unlike other port cities around the world, Lisboans don’t have that detached holier-than-though arrogance. On the contrary, they are the walking definition of tranquilo and it stems from this fascinating fusion of cultures and temperaments that has taken place over the past three millenia. Between the Iberian pride, peninsular chill, African beat, and Continental etiquette, this country will change the very definition of keeping calm at all levels. Don’t get me wrong, of course there are glitches to be encountered everywhere, but on the whole, if you are not hell-bent on doing things by the book and within the box like the Germans, the Portuguese tranquilo is definitely the higher existential path.
Having said that, let me tell you about my tranquilo adventures today… Let me begin with sharing my morning walk to the train station. Yesterday I neglected to share photos of the little streets, so allow me to make up for that:
The ride into Lisbon was uneventful again, but this time, when I arrived at the station, I decided I had enough time to sit down for a coffee and a croissantwich and imbibe the tranquilo mood all around me. Oh boy. I couldn’t have outed myself more as a newcomer even if I tried. It all began with ordering a coffee. When in Portugal, it is pretty much like in Italy, any time of the day is coffee time because the pingado (an espresso with a dash of milk) is so freaking small that you can have several of them throughout the day. But I didn’t want a pingado, instead I was aiming for a proper (German) sized coffee or even a capuccino that you can drown your soul in. You can’t even get a pinky wet with a pingado! The lady at the bakery noticed my confusion and shouted out “you want a big one?” I cringed in embarassment because I happened to be surrounded by men at that time, two behind me, and one on each side. I haven’t blushed in a long time, but I did again this morning. So I nodded my head vigorously, grabbed the ham and cheese croissant, and ducked out of sight to a corner table where I could have my “big one” in peace and quiet. Tranquila. The damn thing was so strong, I was wide awake by the time I got up. Just as well because for the day that followed, I could have used two of those potent brews.
On my way home I fell asleep in the train, which could be interpreted as a good thing I suppose because my body was craving for some shutdown (not shuteye) time. Alas, this is was a grave mistake on these intercity trains as I learned. The announcements for the next station effectively stop once you cross the city limits and it is up to you to watch out for your stop. Shit. I was fast asleep and had it not been for the little girl sitting across from me who accidentally kicked my leg, I would have ended up in Castanheira de Ribatejo, which is the end of the line and a good 5.2km away. I woke up, horrified that I had reached Vila Franca and had no clue how long the train had been standing there. Well, I got off in the nick of time and made my way home to cook dinner. Tranquilo.