But what about Fear?

But what about Fear? 
~a free-verse about the fear-verse ~

That’s a “dangerous way of thinking.”
I can hear my families voices ringing in my ears.
Espousing danger, is a favorite past time in Christianity.
Keeping the wife blind, and the women silent.
“They get too emotional, so of course they shouldn’t be in a place of leadership because we can’t trust their decision-making skills.”

Anything that is different from the legalistic way,
I was trained to believe as a child,
Thinking differently,
Ultimately it leads to my own FREEDOM,
which is DANGEROUS.
Once you are free, you are no longer protected.
You must remain in a box of curated thinking,
in order to stay protected by those in that same box.
They claim salvation through their ideals.


Right has no finesse.
To be right, is to penetrate with bullets or a sword.
It’s staccato. It hurts, it stings.  We bleed.
And don’t mistake me saying RIGHT as being correct.  Or RIGHT is accurate.
To be RIGHT, comes from a desire to be heard.
Call it insecurity, call it a tiny penis.  Call it misinformed.
Call it what you WILL.
But where there is a WILL, there is a WAY.
Even for those who believe they are RIGHT.

So, when one believes something different than me,
if the instinct is to FEAR
Then I must ask you, are you afraid you might be WRONG?
Would that mean your whole life was built on sand?
Are you then, duped?
Can no one trust you then?
Oh no, must you now humble yourself?
Must you start over?
Must you change your mind?

Your mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Did you waste it?
Did you waste your life?

You raised me.
The next generation is always here, to pick up where you left off.
To take up arms, to lay down our arms.
To carry the sword of truth, whatever it may be.
To RIGHT, your wrongs.

So instead of telling me I’m thinking dangerously, remind me,
I’m thinking independently.
Independent of you.
Which is a good thing.
Maybe I’ll be able to be a leader after all.
Think freedom, instead of fear.
Think that – new thoughts, speak eloquence.
They resonate, because they are new tones, new sounds to the ear.
Rather then the droning that will eventually be tuned out.

And before you start thinking, that you’ve heard these words before,
just know,
it’s my first time experiencing them.
So let me ride this wave.
It is God’s WILL. And God’s WILL, is always RIGHT.
So have no FEAR. 


Which way the winds blow, and the blood-lines flow.  

I guess I’m about to get my period – I just want to eat chocolate and I’m very needy. Today I actually cried to the school administrator and asked, “How can I stay here? Is it possible to teach English in Portugal?” 

I thought that I would be immune to PMS during this trip. Oh well, guess not. I feel emotional, and I can’t tell if it’s because I’m about to ride the “crimson wave” (Thank you, Clueless), I’m solely & 100% sad about leaving, or if I’ve become a little more Portuguese (They have a flair for drama. Overhear a conversation at lunch, or watch a futbol game – you’ll see). It’s probably a combination of all three. It’s okay, I surrender to the journey. 

This past weekend I spent in Lagos. While I was there I discovered that I’m in-trouble. I became completely certain that I do not want to go home. Lagos is the place you read about in Peter Pan. It is Neverland for the soul.  I truly was not expecting to fall in love; not with a city, an ocean, a country. I traveled to Lagos alone, and was elated the entire time. I did not need a companion. I was more then delighted to hike and explore by myself. The ocean was my friend, my very good friend. Don’t get me wrong, I met some great locals, had great conversations and meals with them, and received great recommendations of places to go and sites to see.

Lagos is a huge tourist destination, so I can’t say that I was speaking much Portuguese this past weekend.  With one more week of learning Portuguese, it is more clear then ever that I need to stay if I want to become conversational, let alone fluent! I am learning just enough of the language to get around, but it is still very difficult for me to understand those that speak it. Apparently the Algarve regions speaks ‘muito rapido’ compared to other regions of Portugal. I would love to stay longer and get better at this language that I am falling in love with, however I already signed a lease for an apartment upon my return and paid the first month’s rent and security deposit. If I hadn’t, I would have extended my trip in a heartbeat! Oh well, we can’t always control the circumstances in our lives.

Now, I haven’t spoken about the awesome couple I am staying with. Initially, I was unsure of what was going on and have been waiting for positive news. I still don’t fully understand the situation. Nuno had a scheduled and routine surgery on a blood-clot in a vein in his leg two weeks ago. Something went wrong with the procedure and there were complications. He was sent up to Lisbon after a few days, and he and his girlfriend Teresa have been gone ever since. Occasionally I get updates via a phone call, text or Whatsapp message. I am happy to report he is recovering and doing better, however they will most likely not be back before I leave Faro. This makes me sad, not just for me, but for them. It is hard to become uprooted with no warning, and for a reason such as this! 

Sometimes life takes a different course then we plan.  Veins, bloodlines, circumstances are routed and rerouted for us.  The wind can surpise us and pick up at a moments notice. And yes, PMS happens.  All I can control is how I respond to the circumstances – my breath (which can at least slow my beating heart). Of course thinking of other people’s stories, puts my little sob-session in perspective. I truly am grateful for every moment of this experience.  And at the very least I can always take my school administrators advice – save my money and come back.  Sounds like a plan Cristina!


Saudade, Legacy; all this I am discovering. 

I was born at the wrong place time, in the wrong time.  
Last week I discovered that Deborah, our school’s tour guide who takes us out on excursions every week, has the exact birthdate as me.  We were born about 9 hours apart, taking the time difference into account.  Portugal is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard time, so it makes sense to me that she would arrive first.  🙂  Sisters, separated at birth. 

This weekend I was supposed to meet three girlfriends from my school to take a day trip.  I missed the train by one minute, and saw it pull away from the station.  If there is one lesson I learn from this trip, it’s DON’T BE LATE, because the next train was 2 hours later!  I was very tired from only 4 hours of sleep the night before.  The Portuguese don’t sleep, so when in Faro….  

It turned out to be a lovely day, with non-stop walking, but was ironically very relaxing.  I took in a flurry of markets by the marina in Olhao.  I walked to the end of the pier and found refuge under an awning from the 90+/30+ (F/C) degree weather and scorching sun, while absorbing the salty wind.  Most of the day I spent finding the shady parts of the street or sidewalks.  I concluded it was best I did not make the train to accompany my friends.  They wanted to head out to an island for the day and soak up more sun; I was satisfied from my sunburn the previous weekend.  I would much rather take in the environment with all my senses: the city streets, the people, the culture, all the hubbub.  Plus, living in Southern California, I do not crave the ocean or hot sun; I can get it when I want it. Lucky me, I know.  

In the afternoon, I took another train to Tavira.  It is an old town mostly consisting of old people, and many of them tourists.  I had not experienced enough music up until this point.  Only by chance at a restaurant and bar last weekend, and also at the beach last Saturday, but I heard mostly American cover songs.  I had made plans to meet up with a fellow student from my school – Rob, an older British gentleman along with his wife, and their friends in town for the weekend.  Rob recommended coming to a concert at an old church in Tavira; this weekend was Portuguese guitar.  It was just what I needed to satisfy my cravings!

I had time to kill before meeting them, and I took a self-guided walking tour that was led by my trusty steed and guidebook – “Rick Stevens: Portugal.”  It gave me a good idea of the layout of the tiny, old city.  Next to the church was a man by the name of Luis, selling tickets for a Fado concert right before the Portuguese Guitar concert. Of course I attended that concert as well.

The short 30-minute show explained the history of Fado, followed by a live performance.  I was completely moved by the music. The woman’s voice was hauntingly beautiful.  The men were very skilled on the guitar and swept up in the music also, one of the men habitually closed his eyes.  I could not fully comprehend the lyrics, but I understood the heart and soul of the pieces.  My heart fathoms Fado!  With tears in my eyes, I determined everything was as it should be. I was in the right place, at the right time today.  

Following the guitar concert, Rob and his friends invited me out for a drink by the river – the ladies drank a glass of vinho verde (Portugese wine), while the men drank cerveja (beer).  We discussed the concert, my journey, their professions, quasi-retirements and traveling.  I love older people, I love British people, I love old cities, and I love traveling!

I feel a great Saudade, for what, only my hearts understands!! 

(Saudade is a Portuguese word that does not have a direct translation.  It is in part, a deep sense of longing or melancholy, nostalgia.  Some relate it to homesickness.)


BACK to reality. 

My dad had two pieces of advice for me before my trip: 1. “Don’t get cocky”  2. Check your reflection whenever you pass store windows, car windows, side mirrors, etc.  See the irony here?  If  I am safe in Portugal, I might appear a bit cocky. 😉

My dad gave me my first bit of advice when I told him I was confident in my ‘street-smarts.’  He quickly retorted, out of his protective nature.  He believes you can never be too careful, or prepared. He has a saying, “never not prepared”, which he normally recites in Latin. Yes, that’s my father.  

In my first week here, I was told my Portuguese was very good and I was picking it up quickly in class.  I was courageously saying hello to people I met, asking them simple questions, and ordering food.  I felt good about my progress.  Now in my second week, we are learning much more, and quickly.  I feel a bit uncertain, as though I don’t have solid footing.  I am apprehensive to move forward, especially at the rate that we are going.  

I got sunburn on my back this past weekend.  I applied sunscreen when my friends and I first arrived at the beach.  However 5 hours, a swim in the ocean and a spontaneous nap on my stomach later, my back was a lovely shade of lobster.  I do not feel so pretty in pink.  The Portuguese people I have been hanging out with say now I look like a real tourist.  

“E´ verdade!” I say,  as we fade out to the sound of the famous Portugal cock, crowing in the the background.  


A funny thing happened on the way to the….museum. 

“I’m popular, I’ve got my own car, I’m popular….”  Ah, Nada Surf – proving I’m a child of the 80’s.  This chorus still sings in my head when I think about anyone being popular.  Yesterday a funny thing happened, that reminded me of the days when I came home to Carson Daly.  

I brought a small lunch to school, with plans to eat at the harbor.  After class, I took my walk to the water and followed a route I was familiar with from class excursions.  As I walked down the marbled-streets, I heard behind me, “Ana!” (as is my Portuguese name).  I turned around to find my host, Nuno, peeking his head out of the Bike Lounge (a cafe that also sells, rents, and repairs bicycles).  Nuno was wearing a bike-racing outfit, and had stopped for lunch at the cafe.  

“Come!”  I followed, tickled that I knew someone in town.    

Inside the cafe, he introduced me to Alberto and Susana.  Susana owns the cafe, Alberto repairs and sells the bikes.  They both spoke English well, but spoke Portuguese as I requested.  Susana said I asked funny questions.  Alberto invited me to come riding with him and his friends, Nuno included, on Sundays.  We had a nice chat, and then I went off to find a good bench with a view.  

After lunch, I went back to school for another excursion with the students.  This time, to Faro’s historical and cultural museum.  As we walked to the museum we passed the Bike Lounge, and my classmate Miguel was curious how much it cost to rent a bike from them.  I quickly went inside, “Hola Alberto!  Quanto custa to rent a bike para uma semana?” (I speak Portuglish right now).  I joined the group outside and showed Miguel the rates.  The students and tour guide were a little surprised at my familiarity with Alberto and the cafe.  As we continued on toward the museum in conversation, we heard “Hola Ana!”  I looked toward the voice in surprise, who could be calling my name now!?  It was Susana, walking back to her cafe, waving and smiling at me.  The tour guide Deborah looked at me in disbelief.  I blushed, as I explained how these events came to happen.  “That is the best way to learn,” she said. “Make conversations with the people!”  I chuckled to myself, a funny thing indeed.  


Zumba com meu bum-bum!

I am so tired today. I decided to take the advice of my friend Josh, who recently returned from a 6 week trip to Asia right before I left for Portugal.  He said, “you can sleep when you come home.”  I was jet-lagged the first two nights and had a hard time adjusting to the 8 hour time difference.  However yesterday, I said yes to every invitation.  Our school sponsored a tour of the city; a lovely young lady Deborah showed us around.  She had the most beautiful style!  I wanted everything she was wearing.  She loves Faro, and sharing it with people.  I can’t speak enough about the old(est) part of the city.  It is surrounded by high stone walls, and filled with many narrow winding-roads, some allowing cars to drive through.  It is so romantic and inspiring!  I could walk down these street every day with jazz music in my mind’s ear.  
Afterwards Leslie, a British businessman on holiday, invited us to a beer.  Veronic and I accompanied him, and being the gentleman that he is he insisted on paying.  At home, my host-couple invited me to have dinner with them at 10pm.  Teresa also invited me to come to her Zumba class at 8:15 before dinner.  Sim e Sim, obrigada!
For those of you who know me, I am rhythmically challenged.  I have two left feet.  But I want to experience all that Portugal has to offer, so I needed to try.  I am so glad that I did!  I have never had so much fun in a dance class!  The dance classes I have had in the past, have always stressed proper form and I found them to be very intimidating.  Not this one.  I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing.  I loved the high energy.  And Teresa, she is a blast!  She is so inspiring.  So now I plan to go to her class as much as I am able.  I was planning on trying to find a yoga studio while I am here.  This has been hard to find, and now I know why.  Why do yoga, when you can Zumba!? 

P.S. And dinner was muito delicioso!  Baked beans with chicken and rice, and spices.  Nuno loves to cook and he has a machine called Bimby, in America it’s called Thermomix.  It can make any recipe you want.  He is obsessed with and after a few days I understand why.  It’s one of the best man gadgets.  If I could afford one I would buy one for my dad, for a mere $1,600 USD.  


I Slept In!!!!…..Nao, faz problema!

When I woke up an hour and a half after my alarm went off, I imagined the “Meat, it’s what’s for dinner” song was playing in my mind as I rushed around my room like a tiny tornado, a la Home Alone.  I originally planned on taking a leisurely stroll on my first day of school, an opportunity to discover my new city.  Instead, it was more of a speed-walk with my host couple as they showed me the way and I frantically took mental notes that felt like they were transcribed in chicken scratch.  I had little faith I would remember the numerous turns, roundabouts, shortcuts and crosswalks they showed me.  

I arrived to school five minutes late.  The staff was gracious and friendly.  I could tell my tardiness was not a rare event.  We had a brief introduction and orientation.  I met my 3 classmates for the week – Marie, a German girl; Michel, an Austrian man and James, a Scottish man (whose English was hardest for me to understand).  We began our linguistic journey together with our trusty leader – Professora Lurdes, an adorable Portuguese woman.  She is a short woman and has straight, gray hair that reaches her chin.  She is a spunky woman, with a great sense of humor.  I could hardly contain my excitement during class, sporting a big cheesy grin.  I couldn’t believe I was actually here in Portugal, learning Portuguese from a Portuguese native, surrounded by not one single American.  I tried hard to focus, while thoughts bubbled to the surface.  I never want to leave.  How can I do this forever? I don’t want today to end. 

During the morning break, the students and teachers went in a group to the cafe across the street, a daily tradition. I ordered a latte. I have not had coffee in years, but I decided I might just have to make it part of my daily routine.  When the break was meant to be over, everyone took their time heading back.   I stood up to pay at the counter, “Should we pay?”  Michel the Austrian chuckled, “No need to rush, we are on vacation.”  I laughed and sat down, “True. I’m from America, we rush over there.”  Especially me. This trip was going to be good for me, in more ways then I realized.  Marie, the German girl, and bought some pastries to split.  A savory roll filled with some delicious meat (fish or chicken?) and a mini orange tart.  This was the perfect meal to cure my hunger pangs from skipping breakfast.  
After class, Marie and I explored the city together, walking the winding cobble-stoned streets with their low arch-ways and cute cafe’s around every corner.  We walked to the harbor and settled into another cafe overlooking the water, reading our Portugal books and taking a selfie with my selfie-stick before our departure.  

During the walk back, a nice drizzle filled the air.  Like Los Angeles, it did not rain hard and I rarely saw anyone holding an umbrella.  Nao, faz problema!  In addition, my visual memory and sense of direction had stayed in tact.  I periodically would turn around to see if I recognized the turns from the opposite direction, as I had walked them earlier that morning.  There was no way I would have left bread crumbs, as Portugal’s bread is delicious!