Sunday, April 24, 2011

As férias já acabaram...

Férias are almost over. Just tomorrow left, and then it's back to school with all of us. ):
I barely had any time at home over this break! I was so busy that I don't have the time or energy to write down everything we did here, so it'll be a brief overview. After I got back from Porto I had three days off before we headed up north to see the Castles of the Interior! We spent the night in a town with walls around it in the shape of a star! On the way back south after seeing castles, we stopped in Minde to get Alexandra and then headed off to Lisboa again for Reyna's (another American) birthday outing. We went out in the Bairro Alto region of Lisboa, which has tons of bars and small streets that all look the same. Me and Alexandra caught a taxi and got to where we needed to be, all by ourselves :D this may not sound like a big deal, but there aren't really taxis in New Mexico OR Minde, so it was an accomplishment in Portuguese. All the American semester people were there, and it was nice to catch up and have some fun. The next morning, we went shopping in Lisboa and walked around downtown a little, while my host mom gave us some history on the buildings we passed. There was a huge earthquake and tsunami in Lisboa in 1755, followed by fires all over the downtown area, and so the streets and buildings were all rebuilt--the buildings in a Parisian style and the streets in easy-to-navigate squares. That afternoon we went back to Minde for Palm Sunday (there was a procession outside our house :D), and on Monday it was back to Lisboa for me and Rita, with my host Avô (grandma). We stayed for two nights, just seeing the city with her. We also went and saw The Adjustment Bureau and Red Riding Hood, two movies in two days! The Lisboa aquarium was my favorite part of that trip (: The day after we got back from that, we all (except João) went to Baleal, but it was raining and windy and miserable, so we spent most of our time inside.
Rode a horse - bareback!

Me and Alexandra in Lisboa

Today was Easter, so the morning was spent sleeping (on my part, nobody wakes me up here), cooking and cleaning. I tried "baba de camelo", which literally translates to "camel spit/drool". It really does look like slobber, but it tastes delicious! 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Lost and Found", David Hollies

The first few times
Being lost was frightening
Stark, pregnant

With the drama of change
Then, I didn't know
That everywhere is nowhere
Like the feeling when an ocean wave
Boils you in the sand
But as time goes by
Each occurrence of lostness is quieter
Falling from notice
Like the sound of trains
When you live near the tracks
Until one day
When a friend asks
"How often do you get lost?"
And I strain to recall a single instance
It was then that I realized
Being lost only has meaning
When contrasted with
Knowing where you are
A presumption that slipped out of my life
As quietly as smoke up a chimney
For now I live in a less anchored place
Where being lost is irrelevant
For now, only when there is a need
Do I discover where I am
No alarm, no fear
Just an unconscious check-in
Like glancing in the rear-view mirror.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The next almost three weeks are FÉRIAS! I don't have school because of Easter! :D AFS let us choose to do a camp-type thing in one of three locations - Leiria, Olhão, or Porto. I chose Porto because I live near Leiria, and the other Americans were all going to Olhão and I wanted to be different and daring. :P Mostly it was because my host mom told me that if it were her she'd choose Porto because Olhão is a bit ugly and is just beach. So, Thursday morning at 10:30 I got on a train. My host mom took me to the train station, which was in Entroncamento, a nearby town, and helped my buy my ticket, and waited with me until 10. While we waited she told me some history of Porto and Portugal in general, all in Portuguese. (;
On the train, I sat with María Laura, my friend from Costa Rica. We talked all the way to the estação Campanhã, and waited for AFS to call one of us to tell us what we were supposed to do, because we'd both heard different things. After about 20 minutes María got a call from a volunteer telling us to come to the São Bento station, because that's where the volunteer and the other exchangers were waiting for everyone. So, after a little frantic running around and missing metro trains, we finally headed off to the right station.
When we got there, we waited for a few more students to arrive, and then went to lunch. I got stuck in the metro doors on the way there--not something I'd like to experience again. There was no sitting room in the metro, so we were all packed together and there was nothing to hold onto, so I kept falling into everyone, mostly Steinarr, who's from Iceland. For lunch we ate traditional Porto food, but I can't remember what it's called, so I'll get back to you on that. It was like a meat sandwich covered with cheese and an egg, and it was delicious. Then we went back to the metro station, waited around some more, and then had to go find the other kids that had arrived but for some reason weren't with us. We found them, but they ended up exploring Porto a little bit while we went back to the train station. I don't really remember why this stuff happened, but everything was really not that organized. Also, it was really really HOT. Which is unusual for Porto, usually it's rainy and kind of cold all the time. Anyways, long story short, once we found the other exchangers we went to a cafe and met our host parents. I stayed with María Pía, who is another semester exchanger from Argentina.
The next morning we got up SUPER early because we had to take the metro into Porto from Vila do Condo, where Maria and her her mom live, and it takes an hour! We met the others above the metro station and from there we walked to a school. We went into a few classes and introduced ourselves in Portuguese, and did an activity that none of us really understood (even the Portuguese students were confused, so I don't see how we were supposed to be understanding when Portuguese isn't our native language). We just followed the Italians because they seemed to know what they were doing. (; It was basically advertising for AFS, and wasn't fun at all, most of the day we spent waiting around. We ate lunch in the school's cantina, and played basketball. Then we got back on the metro (well, two different metros, because we couldn't all make it into the car on time), and took a bus to another school. At the bus stop, Sedat, a German guy, told me my Portuguese is really good for only being here for 3 months so far! (He's on the year program) :D I guess the school wasn't ready for us when we got there, so we hung out in a park-thing by the school and got ice cream. Well, mostly we waited for change because all we had were 20 euro bills and the poor little cafe didn't have enough change. In the school, we did some more advertising for AFS, and I played my first international soccer game! A Portuguese PE class was one team, and me, the two Italian guys and the two German guys were another. We won both games (no thanks to me, but it was fun anyways)! After we were done at the school we waited some more, and then finally went home with our host families.
The next day, we didn't have any AFS activities until 2 pm, so Maria, I, and our host mom all went to the beach and then to yoga! The beach is beautiful, and yoga was challenging but fun. The north of Portugal has a different accent than the rest of the country, and apparently the Azores Islands do, too (I couldn't tell on that one). But I felt bad for my host mom (Porto one) because I couldn't understand anything she said unless she talked really really slow. That afternoon, me and Maria took the metro into Porto again, and kind of got confused as to where we were supposed to meet the AFSers. We ended up asking two people for directions to the church, and weirdly enough they both said "I don't speak Portuguese very well, do you speak English?" Maria was very glad I was there with her, she said. The whole day we walked around Porto with a tour guide and learned a lot of history of Porto. We went to see some Port wine cellars (Port wine is from PORTO! In case you didn't know) and we also got to taste some wine. Then we had a little bit of time off, and at 8 we met everyone for one last dinner with all of us. I think the meat that we all ate was bad, though, because that night and the next day everyone that had eaten the meat was having stomach problems. The next day we got to sleep in, and went into Porto at 1 so I could catch my train at 2:50. I rode the train back to Entroncamento with both Tommys , Elena, Melissa, Eilif, Maria Laura, Max, Sedat and Jess.

JK Rowling was inspired by this bookstore.

Spectacular ending to a fantastic weekend (:
It's really sad to leave the exchangers, because we all bond pretty fast because we're all in the same situation. But I met a few more people that live in nearby cities, so I hope that we'll be able to see each other before we go to the last camp in June. Tomorrow me and my host family are going up north to see some castles, and then on Friday night we'll be in Lisboa for another exchanger's birthday party. (: