How a Change in Routine, Can Lead to Greater Self-awareness
Yesterday I misplaced my wallet and today I spilled a cup of coffee; careless and frustrating. These are the things that happen when your daily routine changes and you’re not paying attention. There is danger in trying to recreate your old life in a new environment. It’s like trying to put up a tent when the wind is blowing at 50 mph; it just doesn’t work.
Portugal is a beautiful country with wonderful people, but it is not the United States. It’s land boundaries have not changed since the 13th century (Portugal has a fascinating history); that’s a lot of time to establish yourself. Still, in many ways, it feels like a young country. I’m sure that has a great deal to do with independence, the European Union, difficult economic times, sharing the Iberian Peninsula with Spain, its size, and a host of other considerations. It is the country I chose to reside in and now it is time embrace its riches.
I have noticed some things about the Portuguese culture that I love and admire (these are generalizations I’m willing to defend):
- People are extremely quiet in restaurants. A crowded restaurant in the States is loud; very loud. It almost appears as if people are trying to be louder than the next table. The Portuguese people are aware of the volume of their voices and they are very considerate. I’ve also noticed that background music is just that, it’s in the background. Eating in restaurants is very pleasant.
- Your neighbors are very private and do not try to get in your business. This was something I loved about New York City; however, I did not find it to be true in Maine, North Carolina or South Carolina.
- Public festivals are very calm, clean and the people are happy to be there.
- I have been noticing that older people (70 and up) are out and about and that many of them are impeccably dressed. Women wearing skirts and jackets and men in sports coats and often wearing a tie. Lots of smart hats and interesting walking sticks. I guess that I’m paying more attention to the older population as I approach 60 (rapidly).
- People still use cash!
- Patience seems to run rampant here.
- Items are well-priced. I have not seen any price gouging; I don’t think the Portuguese would tolerate it.
- Whenever you ask, “Fala Inglês? the Portuguese reply, “A little bit,” and then they often speak beautiful English and they are extremely helpful. Very gracious people.
- The streets are clean wherever I go.
- I was never exposed to Portuguese olive oil in the States; there are many varieties and it is as good here as it is in Italy and Spain.
The point is, I am adjusting to my new surroundings and I am falling in love with Faro. I have had to abandon some of my old practices and ways of thinking. If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have told you that I was going to spend the rest of my life in Maine. Funny how life is, you never, ever know where it’s going to take you. Still, we live our lives as if we know what the future will bring — strange that. I have a better understanding of what was meant (click for more info) by the old adage, “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do.”
A day in the beautiful town of Loulé, where there is a whole lot more worth experiencing than IKEA and an outlet mall.