Isn't It Pretty To Think So?

Dispatches on life, love and the human condition by a wanderer and hopeful romantic

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One of my very best friends in the world Amy arrived from Seattle yesterday for a weeklong holiday, meaning I am no longer in my little house alone. I drove the hour or so trip to Faro to collect her from the airport and after a detour through Arrifana so she could see the beach where I’ve been spending most of my time and lunch at the restaurant on Fortaleza point where I’ve taken so many photos, we retired to my house to drink wine and catch up, going to bed early in deference to her jetlag.

It’s refreshing but also a little disorienting to have someone sharing my space and my little life here. I had gotten used to my own particular habits and wishes; now I have to taken someone else’s into account, someone to whom this is all new territory and who is eager to explore. But it’s good for me to have a companion and I am happy to show someone this beautiful place I’ve come to love so well.

Friday was my first day of holiday and I spent eight glorious hours on Arrifana surfing, sunning, napping and reading “Blindness,” a completely depressing book by Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese author Jose Saramago. It was a good day of surfing for me and I went in the water four separate times, although the third time was at high tide and the waves were a little too big, even close to shore, for me to navigate very well. But I practiced dropping in a bit, with disastrous results, tumbling and crashing in a couple of spectacular wipeouts. One of them was witnessed by my first surf instructor of last week Aldo, who was sitting on the beach and smiled and threw up his hands at me as I came up from being thrown to the sand. I shrugged and laughed, figuring you have to learn somehow.

Later I found out through one of my new friends from Brighton Phil that it’s impossible to drop in on a wave on the kind of board I’m using if I take the wave directly, which I was doing; he said you have to take it at an angle if I even hope to stand up and ride it out. I’ll have to try that for next time.

Actually Phil and Jon joined me on Arrifana for a sunset surf, and I learned the drop-in advice from Phil on a break when he came out of the water and sat next to me, dripping wet from the water, for a long and spirited chat. The topic ranged from his profession, gardening, to Archimedes, a Greek inventor and physicist whose inventions apparently defended Sicily (he came up when we spoke of my Sicilian heritage), to attributing my affinity for Portugal and its beaches to that very heritage (“It’s in your blood, you can’t escape it,” he said).

Phil is one of those people I’m lucky enough to meet quite often who is still actually interested and curious about life and will seek knowledge just for the sake of it, and so was a real pleasure to talk to. He didn’t go to college and instead apprenticed to a gardener — in the true sense of the word, not just someone who cuts your lawn for you — so he could learn properly about plants and how to grow them. He has his own business planting and managing very large gardens for rich English folks in Brighton and sincerely loves his work. He has surfed around the world and at one point traveled to Yemen to study Arabic because he is fascinated by the culture. (He had a great time explaining to me on Wednesday about “friendly” Yemenese tribal kidnappings.) He’s traveled in Africa and the Middle East, among other places, and in general was a fountain of knowledge. He also is quite cute, with curly, unruly hair that he would self-consciously run his hands threw and puff out like a clown wig, so he was not an entirely terrible person to spend 40 minutes chatting with as the sun began to set on a gorgeous beach.

Later I met Phil and Jon for one last dinner in Carrapeteira. It had gotten quite windy and we sat indoors this time, and all three of us were quite exhausted. My eight hours on the beach in the sun and all that surfing was starting to take its toll, and they also were beginning to think about their journey back home the next day, so it was more subdued than our dinner on Wednesday — but not unpleasantly so. I had sopa de peixe again and then lamb chops this time, neither of which disappointed. After we tried to go to the one “disco” in the tiny town but though it was only about 10:45 or so it was locked up for the night. So we said our goodbyes, exchanged e-mail addresses and I went home to bed to ready myself for Amy’s arrival.

Now she is here finishing a shower and then it will be my turn. We just had a walk around the countryside near my house. Today it’s quite windy and cool so we’re going to head down to Lagos to do some browsing and shopping and have dinner later. It should be a lovely way to spend an easy Sunday.

Author: elizabethmontalbano

I am a writer, photographer, lover, fighter, traveler and bon vivant currently residing in southwest Portugal.

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