Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Getting Wet Yet?

I couldn't resist the title of this post. This post is the last one I have to write about our holiday in Portugal that involves notes about the day. I am sure DM and I will both have a million stories to tell for many years, but this is the last where I will try to detail the day.

On the second Tuesday of our trip (the one where we were not jet lagged beyond belief), Johnny took us to see the ocean again. This time we went to a beach and sat in the sand. But I'll get to that.

Our trip to the shore took us over the 25th of April bridge, providing views of Cristo Rei, the Christ statue blessing the city of Lisbon. Maybe it was our tourist eyes and maybe it was a little bit of fascination, but the views of Lisbon were so amazing. Even the areas that Johnny pointed out as not very pretty were full of new sights and scenery to us. Bryan said it well when we went to karaoke on Sunday. There is soul in Europe. I think there is some soul here in America, but it is hard to find. I keep looking around here, searching for beauty. It is spring time and the crab apple trees are blooming a vibrant magenta and some of the architecture is stunning, yet the cities do not shine in my eyes as much as a simple street in Lisbon. The images I saw on the trip are etched into my mind and I want to hold onto them forever.

Before we hit the beach, we walked up a little hill to a little cafe/restaurant with outdoor seating. There were dogs running freely in the street, some tramps and some owned but not on leashes. Johnny kept an eye out to keep them from Papoila and DM and I were to order food using Portuguese. The restaurant is called, "A Merendeira". Inside, DM and I ordered the food and brought it out to Johnny.

Johnny and DM had soup made from kale and potato. Bread with sausage inside it was another part of the meal for DM and I. The bread was much better than what we had at the Amsterdam airport. All of us had Coca-Cola. The sun was at my back as we sat there eating and drinking. People wandered up and down the street, shopping and carrying on with their lives. A man passed and made us laugh when we saw that his shirt proclaimed that he was a "Sex Coach". Thinking that it was cheesy and stupid, we each chuckled. The more I think about it, it is pretty sad. I always got the impression that a coach is a player that just couldn't cut it.

We finished up the good meal and headed off to the different shops. A shop has miniture liquor bottles in the window and I stopped in to purchase them for my dad and myself. We each collect them. Some of the most fascinating bottles were the ones filled with Ginja liquer, something I have never tasted. Dad and I will not open the bottles, but someday I would like a taste of it. I should have bought an extra bottle.

We kept shopping and DM found some pretty decent gifts for people back in the States. I picked up something to share with the team back at NABABNA. Then we headed towards the ocean.

Johnny had wanted to take us to her parent's beach house, but that beach was under construction. We hopped in the car and headed to a different section of the shoreline. The view was magnificent. I have mentioned it before on this blog, but I want to share it again. I adore the ocean. I have seen lakes, large and small, and lived by the Mississippi river for most of my life, but Portugal was the first time I saw an ocean (other than flying over it and my flights over it were always in the middle of a plane so no good views). Minnesota may be the Land of 10,000 Lakes (15,000 in really wet seasons), but we have few sights as stunning as water that stretches beyond my mind's imagination. Lake Superior is pretty darn big (you know, biggest of the Great Lakes) and it is awe-inspiring and it still pales in comparison. I had never realized that I could fall in love with the sea.

DM loves the ocean too. She always has a look in her eye when she talks about seeing the ocean while in Mexico that expresses a feeling of joy. Johnny had decided to head back to the car once we got on the beach, not feeling up to the sun and the wind, but Dana and I stayed behind for an hour, both enthralled. Before we left, Liz had told us to sit on the beach and just enjoy the ocean. I can honestly say my mind was clear of all worries. Stress disappeared from my life as I watched the waves crash against the shore. I didn't think about work, I didn't think about my family, and I didn't think of anything that makes my mind go into overtime. I just relaxed. Maybe for the first real time in my life I let everything fall away and enjoyed the moment. I did love sitting in the sand, letting it fill my boots and cling to my jeans, and watching the ocean crash against the land.

We saw sunbathers. There were surfers (even though the water was a bit cold). Little kids ran up the water, chasing it away and running back as the ocean played back. Fishermen sat out on a rock. People young and old were all around. I think if I lived close to an ocean it would be hard to pull me away. Now I get it. I never did before. I couldn't understand why anyone wanted to be so close to so much water. It never seemed meaningful to me. Now I love the sound the water makes. I love the way the light hits the water and everything gleams. I adore the smile on a child's face who is content just sitting along the water line, playing in the sand.

Between DM and I, we took over 500 pictures of the ocean that day. We were there about an hour, but we just kept trying to capture the moment. Having a picture of each of us in the water (just up to our knees) and sitting on the beach was something I wanted badly. Many of the pictures are just us, laughing like loons and grinning ear-to-ear.

I rolled up my blue jeans (pointless, they got soaked anyway) and waded into the water. My feet sunk into the sand, so smooth and fine. I laughed and smiled and let the wind whip my hair around. I think a part of me will always long to be back on that beach.

Both DM and I were able to collect a bit of sand to bring home. I wanted something to remember the day besides all the pictures. It was a short love affair with the sea and something I will treasure always.

The hour there passed too fast and Dana and I gathered up our belongings. We headed back to the car to find Johnny and Papoila. We went back to Johnny's flat and changed out of our sand caked clothing. The memory cards on the cameras were cleaned out (being able to use Johnny's laptop was a wonderful, wonderful thing).

Once the memory cards were empty again, we headed off to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. DM and I had thought it would be quite awesome to eat Chinese food in Portugal. And you know what? It was. The food was delicious. The restaurant Johnny took us to was called Nova Ásia.

The meal consisted of egg rolls (I asked if the red sauce was sweet and sour. I was told, "Yes." It wasn't. It was HOT, HOT sauce. Dana told me she liked spicy foods and decided to swap egg rolls with me. Once she slammed her Coca-Cola, she reached across the table and slammed Johnny's.) We also had beef with onions (and green peppers in a sauce that I was told during my days at the Chinese restaurant is called, "fish sauce," even though it has nothing to do with fish). Johnny and DM had a salad made of bamboo shoots (which I've had and think they are a bit crunchy for my tastes) and seaweed (which I've also tried before. I'm not a fan). Another entree was fried chicken with lemon. The fried rice was good. The rice was more white than I am used to with fried rice, but the peas and scrambled eggs were familiar.

The meal was finished off with good desserts for all. Johnny had fresh pineapple, DM had Crema Tartalenla (caramelized sugar on top, an almost vanilla pudding underneath), and I tried the tangerine sherbert. We all liked our choices.

Heading back to Johnny's, there was a small stop. Johnny had to meet up with Becas and pick up a cable box that unscrambles certain channels. She set it up and started to flip through the channels. It got stuck on the first scrambled channel. Of course, this would be the soft porn channel (Playboy) and every comment made by Johnny broke DM and I into giggles. Johnny was looking for the phone and found it under the armchair DM sat in. She said, "There's a thing poking out." Then when trying to adjust the box without the remote, she said, "It doesn't even let me do it manually."

Now, I am not a fan of porn to begin with, but this was horrible! The man who had the job of pleasuring this woman on the screen was soooooo unattractive and the woman (and those other ones on the screen) didn't even look like she was having a good time.

Johnny finally found a way to have the channels change and then the box got stuck on another channel. This time it was the hard core porn channel. Quite quickly the box was unplugged and it was bedtime. But hey, now DM and I can say we saw porn on our trip!

Oh, and I got this post done much sooner than I thought. Blogger is not being a @#*%$ tonight. Yea!