First few days

June 25, 2009

I slept for 18 hours Wednesday night. The jet lag got me bad. I woke up and saw a little sliver of light coming in from the window and thought it must be from the street lamp. I heard my little cousin pedro yelling downstairs and thought, “God, I can’t imagine putting up with this every night.”

In a few minute I woke up to a knock on my door and it was my aunt Natalia. “I just wanted to check on you, Lena was starting to worry that you were dead.” I walked downstairs and everybody was in the kitchen and the light from the overcast sky was pouring in.

So Thursday was kind of a lost day. I left San Jose on Monday and flew overnight to London. There I met a Portuguese guy with an English accent who does consulting for companies on social networking technology. “There are many different permutations of Portuguese people,” I thought. We got on a plane together and arrive in Lisbon at 10pm on Tuesday. I noticed that I was in a country of my own kind of people now. Dark eyes and hair, short bodies and Arab or Welsh or Mediterranean features.

That night I looked around for a safe and quiet spot to sleep. I found some benches where a little colony of overnight passengers had congregated. I was thankful that I brought all of my camping gear with me on the plane. I stretched out my air mattress under a row of seats and made a comfortable nest for myself, slept a few hours at a time, waking up to read chapters of Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.

In the morning I woke up and was still in Portugal. I got on a plane at 8am and arrived on Terceira Island at 9:40am. I watched the approach the island anxiously and caught the first sight of my parents home country, saw cows standing in little fields carefully divided by stone walls, greenhouses and the blue ocean. I got out of the plane and noticed that the air was cool and fresh smelling – I remembered the islands being humid and a little smelly.

My cousin Lena is like I remember her, alert and straightforward and comfortable. She arrived at the airport with my aunt Natalia and my two little cousins, Ines (9) and Pedro (3). Ines is a very smart and kind girl that immediately made herself comfortable with me. She’s my new Portuguese instructor and corrects me regularly. Pedrinho is a little crazy ball of energy that terrorizes his family, very cute and smart though. I’ve begun to fill up my notebook for him with pictures of helicopters and buses, tractors and cars and police motorcycles.

The first day we ran some errands and I got my first sight of Praia, the town nearest where I’m staying, and the surrounding countryside. There are fields of corn about waist high right now, fields of potatoes and pastures for the cows. Everything is very orderly – it looks like the size of the fields have been long established and the chores of farm work are an old routine. Even in the village there are litte fields of corn and cows tethered to ropes. I caught sight of a big ridgeline towards the interior of the island that I will need to climb soon.

So the last couple of days I’ve been cooped up. It rained hard for the whole evening on Thursday, which prevented me from getting out some more. But today ought to be good. I ran down to Praia and saw some English sailors discussing stuff next to their big sailing yacht – now I’m on a mission to make friends with some rich sailor folks so I can tag aong from island to island. I’m hanging out with Pedrinho now and in a little bit I’ll eave for on bus to Angra, the other big city on Terceira. That’s the town where the festival of San Joaninas is going on right now. In the afternoon we’ll see a ring bullfight if the weather permits, go out on the town for a concert.

So I’m content and well fed but a little bit restless. We’ll see how the weekend of festas goes!


One Response to “First few days”

  1. meganfluke said

    Sounds absolutely fantastic, what an amazing time you’re having Mark!! I really love your perspective, you notice things that many wouldn’t and know how to express them so that people can see them from your point of view. I’m really looking forward to seeing this in a couple of months. ❤

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