It starts like any other addiction: a quick voyage into an unknown world. Maybe your friends are all doing it, and they’ve goaded you as well. Maybe you saw it on TV and it looked incredibly cool. I can’t tell you why we start, and I can’t tell you how to stop. My name is…
In the city there was a man with no arms or legs. He obviously had no means of making money, so every day his neighbor would carry his stump of a body (there really is no other way to put it) to the main street where he would wait for passersby to give him a coin or two. I hid in an alleyway across from him and watched for 20 minutes. Nearly every Moroccan who passed tossed in money, some stopped to fan him because of the heat, some tilted his head back and poured their water into his parched mouth, some simply put their hand over their heart and smiled warmly at him.
So, in your four months did you happen to learn any Portuguese? Research the cuisine? Look in the back of your guidebook at the “simple Portuguese phrases”? …did you happen to put any effort at all into this vacation or were you simply planning to arrive in the country and treat it as if you were still at home?
I scoffed at the 1euro40cent tram ticket (yeah, I’m getting THAT kinda cheap), and decided to go by foot. I was enjoying a perfectly peaceful walk along the river towards a large plaza when I noticed a guy following me and shouting “I’m not drinking- I’m so f*cked!!!”
I will miss the sound of the checkers clacking on the worn wooden backgammon board, the laughter of the children playing tag in the streets, the sun sifting itself through the leaves of the elm at Tops cafe, and the sight of Katerina bumming cigarettes from tourists. This is my Olympia, and I will always return here and find exactly what I left- because it is intangible.
25 years sounds like a long time as I sit here today and wonder where it all went. The first third of my life seems a constant struggle to get somewhere. To get to be old enough to go to school, to get to be old enough to drive, to get through college, to get a job, to get a better job, to keep moving onward & upward. Sure enough I got all these things, I could go places, anywhere I wanted. The hard part was realizing none of these things were what I actually wanted.
I adore cuisine from all over this world, and there is nothing like home made tsatziki and a Greek salad with fresh bread to satiate my mouth, but damnit- sometimes I want to feel the fire of Mexican food in my mouth, and the cooling creaminess of an avocado… yeah, I want that. Specifically the best avocados FROM….
He says “oh good, this is holy water and my mother was afraid you would throw it away because you don’t understand what it is. We must bring this to her, it is very important!” Then I look at him rather sheepishly and tell him I drank the water, but refilled it with tap water- and would she know the difference?
4. Two men can hug and kiss without being gay – or drunk. Yup, and in public even. No insecurity about it, friends being friends. It’s beautiful!
It’s not glamorous or comfortable, but it happens. You are sore in the morning, you look like a train wreck, you wonder why there are bootprints on your face and pray the pile of drool on your shirt is yours (seriously, how did the bootprint get on my face?).