I don’t know about you, but whenever there is a bank holiday thrown into the week, it throws me off course, regardless of whether it falls at the beginning, middle or end. Portugal, as I mentioned, is very generous with bank holidays, and somehow a bunch of them converged over the past seven days. Last Friday was Portugal Day, Monday was the Feast of St. Anthony, and yesterday was Corpus Christi. Lucky those who could take the days off, alas I belong to the unfortunate who had to slave away because the markets I work for didn’t have bank holidays. Oh well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. On the bright side, I’m accumulating a bunch of days I can take off in future. Hopefully. Desperately!
As I have learned in the past months, you figure out very quickly how to get around Lisbon with alternative train routes on bank holidays (or strikes). It’s a bit of a longer (OK, OK, a much longer one) commute, but I’ve never minded train rides anyway. Yesterday evening was a hilarious trip home, as I ended up catching a train from Santa Apolonia and was seated with a gaggle of five women all in their 70s who had obviously been on an excursion and shopping spree in town. They all lived in different villages on my train route home, but they sat together and chattered away loudly and cheerfully. The clearly have been friends for at least half a lifetime. People who have known each other that long just have a different dynamic and bond, and if you know how to read people, you can feel it in your bones. I recognised the familiarity and sisterhood among the women instantly, being one of the fortunate ones in this lifetime to share such a bond with my wonderful soul sisters. The laughter is genuine, carefreee, and heartfelt, laughing with one other and not at each other, and none of them gave a hoot about anyone else around them. The intensity of this group was enviable, and I couldn’t help but grin and enjoy the ride. When one of them asked me to move my backpack so she could sit next to me and not travel backwards I obliged, which resulted in me hearing more of the conversation than I wanted to. Oh the joys of vintage friendships!
Things quieted down from the gaggle as they got off the train one by one. I have to admit, I felt as though something had been yanked from me by the time I reached Vila Fanca sans the senior gaggle. They were absolutely adorable, and I chalked it up to a bout of homesickness. But as I collected my thoughts to write this entry, I realised why I enjoyed their company so much – they reminded me of my mother and her friends when they got together. Normally when her prayer group gathered, things got pretty loud afterwards, especially when copious amounts of food were involved. But there was a lightness among them, compassion when listining to each other’s stories and travails, and a deep-rooted caring that was built on faith. You can never break such a bond.
The first shot of the day was a fortuitous coincidence. As I walked to the station this morning the ducks were having a loud meeting on the docks, and gathered on one of the boats. It was a heated discussion and I wish I spoke duck that moment!
The women last night reminded me how important it is to have a core vine to cling to in life. No matter where you might end up and how far you stray from your origins, there is a part of you that will always guide your soul home. Your true and authentic home.