“My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can” Cary Grant
I have been enjoying the blog ‘Moving to Portugal’, and a recent post got me chuckling. The author mentioned ‘avoiding the hordes’ and ‘the battle’ that is trying to get people to speak to you in Portuguese once it is the ‘tourist season’. (click here to link to this excellent blog).
We have our own “mini-battle” here too, a game I call ‘What’s the time?’. In Portugal you have three ways to say ‘hello’ – ‘bom dia’ in the morning; ‘boa tarde’ in the afternoon and ‘boa noite’ at night. Simple you might think? Well the fun starts at changeover time… when exactly is ‘afternoon’? You see respected wisdom told us that you change at midday… and then others tell us that it depends whether someone has had their lunch or not… so someone will say ‘bom dia’ to you until they have had their sardines!? And as I have made it a ‘rule’ never to wear a watch again since we moved out here, I have no chance of keeping an eye on the magic midday anyway… so the guessing game will continue…
And then the real fun comes in the evening… is it dark enough for ‘boa noite’ yet? It’s confusing at the moment because it’s so light in the evenings… we walked down into the square the other evening and it was about quarter to nine.. ‘almost’ dark… so when I walked past one of the local old men I said ‘boa noite’ … he gives me a wry smile (so I already know I’ve got it wrong… again!) and said ‘boa tarde’ with a big smile…. that’ll be 0-1 to the locals then!
The other strange thing is that if it ever gets dark enough round here to say ‘good night’ to someone you have just seen… in England you would say ‘good night’ as you leave somewhere or say ‘goodbye’ to someone … so saying it as a form of greeting is a bit weird at first!
According to Bill Drake in his book ‘Cultural Dimensions of Expatriate life in Portugal’ we should be entering the second phase of culture shock called ‘dis-integration’ – which apparently follows the first ‘honeymoon’ stage of a new culture and country; and phase two should be ‘characterized by an accelerating sense of discomfort’. Erm… well nope, can’t say I’ve noticed that one! However there might be something in it, if we could just change the name of phase two to ‘disintegration’ in the ‘fall apart, collapse, wear out’ sense of the word – but that’s not us – that’s all our appliances! In the last 2-3 weeks we’ve managed to have all of the following things wear out or stop working on us: the microwave oven; the George Forman Grill (which didn’t make it past round six!); the orange juice presser thing; the much better half’s power drill (a bit essential for us with all the DIY we’ve been doing); the updated Skype programme (essential!) (we downgraded the update and it’s fine again now) and much to husband’s consternation and horror – and the final straw- the espresso coffee machine (he is SO grumpy without his beloved coffee in the morning!)
Add to all of that the fact that the plumber’s brilliant work in our basement to set up the washing machine and sink was slightly marred by the discovery a week later that the manhole cover and drain in the corner didn’t actually connect to anything ,… it’s amazing how much water a washing machine can churn out onto the basement floor! So we’ve had to have part of the drive dug up… I can feel an drastic emptying of our bank account as we speak!
But we are still smiling – how can we not smile with such amazing sunny weather – and enjoying life here so much – sorry Mr Drake I can’t see us hitting phase two anytime soon – and I have also been able to start painting again. It was a bit scary after about six months complete paint brush inactivity – but here’s the result of being brave and getting stuck in there again:
So we shall continue to sort out all the appliances and electric gadgets; I am hoping that the painting above is going to turn into a series of paintings on a similar theme; and I shall no doubt continue to be thwarted by the locals every evening – but I guess it must be ‘boa tarde’ somewhere in the world right now?