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.)