If you have been following this blog for at least the past three months, you will know that my life has been completely turned upside down and inside out since the last week of February 2022. It’s been two months since I moved to Portugal, started a new job, and basically, a new life. Time has has flown at such a speed that has my head and soul spinning with all the new elements to absorb, learn, admire, shake my head at, and smile in wonder. Some moments have been more difficult than others, yes, and I am nowhere near where I want to be, but I am also so far removed from what broke me, that I will embrace any and every adventure Portugal throws my way.
This is a move that has me learning to walk again, and by that I don’t mean the physical act of walking, although I also do a lot of that these days, after two years of sedentary pandemic life, but emotionally, I feel alive again after such a prolonged dormant period. Of course, being emotionally alive doesn’t always mean positive flannel-like kitten cuddling feelings. There are days I come home in despair and in pain, wondering what the devil I got myself into, but I close my eyes and fall asleep to the silence of village life, and I know it is all part of the rebuilding and restoration. I keep reminding myself that when learning to walk, falling down and getting hurt are part of the process , but getting up to try again are even more important. That is the essence of my being a frog – if you get stuck in the mud, simply dive into the next pond, clean up and sit on the lily pad for a while to soak up the sun and things get better.
Having a sense of humour is essential to life here, and if you switch between several languages on a daily basis like I do, you tend to forget what certain words are in any language and even what language you were trying to think in. Last night, for example, the word cauliflower completely escaped me, and I could not remember it in english, german, spanish, tagalog, but could see it in my mind. Five minutes later, after a few deep breaths, I finally remembered it and could continue my sentence. For some reason, learning Portuguese has resurrected my Italian, which is a disaster for me because each time I open my mouth to express something in Portuguese, Italian comes out and I have confused a few people in the process. The morning guard at the building reception where I work asked me one day how my weekend was, I smiled happily and without thinking said Benissimo! and stepped into the elevator, wondering why he gave me strange look. It was only when the doors closed that I realised my mistake. When I saw him the next day he grinned and asked cautiously Tudo bem? (everything alright?) probably wondering what language I was going to respond in because the first couple of days when I was still new, I spoke to him in English, at which he shook his head vehemently.
Life can be hilarious here if you speak Spanish or Italian and try to dissect some of the signs, or the sense behind it. For some reason, the word fabrica is a favourite around here, so the library down the road has a huge sign announcing itself as a fabrica do palabras (word factory) which is not wrong at all. One of the optical shops I went to the other day called itself a fabrica visual (visual factory), which is something I would have associated with Lightroom or Photoshop, but definitely not an optical shop. But the funniest word in Portuguese to wrap my head around is malas… when I first passed shops selling malas or offering to repair them, I swore I thought it was some sort of witchcraft shop! Because malas in Spanish and Tagalog means bad luck. OK, so they were offering chants and spells, but why are there so many shops in this country that do that? Is witchcraft a thing here? A couple of days later I discovered that malas is the Portuguese word for suitcases! Bloody hell.
Another word that drives me nuts is sim… if you ask a question, you are likely to get the response in either something that sound a cat meowing… não (a fundamental word here, which means no) or a vigorous sim sim. OK, everyone seems to be needing a sim card for the mobile phone? or playing the Sims? It is simply another fundamental word for survival here, which means yes. Cue eye roll please. Life is anything but boring in this country.
Yes, I celebrate these two months wholeheartedly and look forward to the day I can celebrate two years!