I blinked twice and she was gone again. Much to my dismay, I brought my daughter to the airport last Thursday morning, thereby ending her all too brief visit in Portugal. It is the eternal maternal tragedy not to be able to hold on to our children for a long as our hearts desire, or to protect them from everything that could inflict pain. The mark of a good parenting, however, is knowing when to let go, recognizing that crucial point between independence and suffocation, guiding them to spread their wings. I remember telling one of Maike’s teachers in high school during our very last parent-teacher conference, that I I too was graduating that year from parental management to customer service, to be there only when called upon and no longer have to hover or micromanage.
Maike came to visit Portugal for the fist time and got the complete Lisbon experience, transportation strikes, scorching heat, aggressive mosquitos and seafood. Portugal delivered in copious quantities of everything and she loved it! For her last day we met up at the Torre de Belem, where I began my Lisbon journey in February, and she ended hers, for now. I purposely saved the tower for the end because I wanted the monument to the explorerst to be her last image of Lisbon, a fitting farewell from the land of the explorers who set out to discover the world.
She got there earlier and did some artwork. When I caught up after work, we had another round of pasteis de nata, or in this case, pasteis de Belem, at the Confeitaria Nacional Belem, little cafe directly at the waterfront with a perfect view of the tower. The pasteis were sensational, the brioche dry as sawdust, but the panda-bear-shaped cocoa powder on the capuccino made up for it, oh and the funky jazz in the background. It is the ultimate touristy thing you could possibly do in Lisbon, but also the best place to sit and admire the Torre in a contemplative manner without having to battle the masses. We didn’t care about the tourist traps, all that mattered was spending the last few hours together, both of knowing that we had to make this moment count in order to tide us over till the next visit.
We then moved on to hunt down our dinner, which in my mind had to be something close to the explorers monument. I didn’t have a concrete plan so we decided to things in classic FrogDiva fashion… wing it, and decide on the spot whether we liked the place or not, dress code be damned. The explorer gods smiled down upon us that evening and let us to Portvgalia, right at the foot of the monument, oozing of seafood and cold drinks. The timing was perfect, as the sun was setting, gracing us with sensational light.
Considering that Maike was headed back to Germany, we decided this was her last chance to indulge in shrimps and crabs, so indulge we did! I honestly can’t remember the last time I ate so much seafood in such a short time. What we consumed over the five days she was here is something I have not had since Thailand, specifically the freshness and topnotch quality! This place was a bit more upmarket that the seafood dive we were at the night before in Vila Franca, the type of place where you spoke softly and could not hear the conversations from the other tables. This was a pity because we were once again equipped with crab hammers but given the ambience, didn’t dare make a racket. Instead, we used the other shell crackers. I have to be honest though, when the waiter set down the plate of instruments in front of me, it felt as though I had wandered into a scene of Frankenstein or the dental clinic from hell!
By the time we finished dinner and waddled out to the boardwalk to wait for our cab, nightfall had set in, allowing me an opportunity to whip out the camera and take a few quick shots of the monument. Who knows when I will visit that spot again!
We were up and about by 4:00am and waiting for the cab by 5:00. Were we groggy? Hell yeah! At the pre-ordered cab did not arrive, so we scrambled for another one at the last minute. Just as well that that we had time to spare and did not have to panic. Needless to say, the closer we got the airport the tighter I held her hand.
Yesterday and most of today I spent nursing a blood pressure that decided to take a trip to outer space. Between the heat, the accumulated sleep deprivation, and the culinary overindulgence, my body decided to behave in a very portuguese manner and go on strike. As a result, my Saturday is the complete opposite of last week, when I was out and about exploring with my daughter.
In closing, allow me to explain the title (it has absolutely nothing to do with the classical piano piece by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov)… in certain parts of Asia, the bumblebee has always been a bearer of good news, especially when it hovers around your window or doorway. The whole morning, there has been a bumblebee shyly hovering at my balcony door, not quite daring to enter my room, but paying me a visit as if to cheer me up. It made me smile, and hope for better things to come.