Sinking into your senses


by Edmundo Diaz

by Edmundo Diaz

Portugal has gotten under my skin in many different ways, one being getting in touch with my SENSES. Perhaps the European lifestyle in general does that, as one is propelled out into the bustling streets of their cities, left to fend with their own two feet, carrying groceries home from the market and up three flights of stairs, strategically placing one’s foot to avoid dog poop ever so sloppily smudged on city sidewalks, feeling beads of sweat hover on the hairs of your upper lip after bolting to the bus before it takes off from the stop, and then consequently smelling the stink of others packed on public transport with you.  

Clearly, when you are secured into the confines of your own car, strapped into an almost sterile inner environment consisting of a pre-programmed radio station, vanilla scented car deodorizer and the view of what fits into the frame of your front windshield, well, you are undeniably going to get a different perspective.  

This experience has taught me how to balance my body weight as the eléctrico tram throws me back and forth as it winds up city hills, to silence out or savor the melodramatic sing song of fado that seems to record intself into the daily soundtrack, and it has sensitized my sense of smell to the myriad of odors that pervades certain neighborhoods: grilled sardines, roasting coffee, and the bad ones too- like the urine that lies in the street corners.    

Side note: Lisbon has probably capped the record for the most sightings of public urinating by men in city spaces.  In fact I was warned by at least two people about this before setting foot here in 2007.  My friend Rute recently shared that when reading a book by a Portuguese author written at the turn of the century, it talked about the English people’s shock to particular Portuguese behaviors, one being the above-mentioned, and that amazingly it hasn’t seemed to change over time.  Certain things, perhaps not condoned, but passively accepted, will take a long time to change here.  There ARE bathrooms to be found, especially considering there is a café every three shops or so where one can  politely do their duties.  Maybe we are behind the times with this attitude?  Check this link for a shock.

Each day brings us something new.  Today I’m drenched in that lovely yet heavy scent of humid air after a tropical like morning of torrential rain in 70 degree  weather.  My hair has gone gringa-afro on me, frizzed to the max and only controlled by a scarf or bandana.  The sky is blue with an even layer of both puffy white and threatening dark clouds.  The fado is no longer playing but I’d rather take it over the other Portuguese traditional pop music playing until the wee morning hours over the weekend.  And for touch…maybe the tap of my fingers on these keys which brings me satisfaction as it allows me to share these senses with you.

Tap into your senses.  See what surprises have been waiting for you.


~ by maureenmoore on June 29, 2009.

2 Responses to “Sinking into your senses”

  1. I’m SURE India can top Portugal in public urination.

    Beautiful piece … I felt I was standing on the bus right by you!

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