36 Hours

That’s roughly how long I have been in Portugal. It feels much, much longer. Mostly in a good, if somewhat surreal, way. It always feels a bit otherworldly to me when I travel through time zones. Add to that a different language, and I always have the sense that I must be on guard, either because something different needs to be navigated or because something wonderful needs to be experienced. Either way, it is a lot to take in, especially the first couple days.

My trip got off to an auspicious start, but unfortunately for a bunch of people I do not know, that is because those people were inconvenienced. Before takeoff on Friday night, we waited on the tarmac for an extra 45 minutes or so for a delayed plane that contained more than a few passengers who were connecting to our flight. Someone must have made the call that we had to get going, because we took off without them. This means that the two people who were supposed to sit next to me did not appear, and I had the entire row to myself. I hope everyone got where they needed to go without too much trouble, but that is what is known as a Red Eye Jackpot, so I had to enjoy it. That means I slept a fair amount, because I seat-belted myself into the middle seat and then lay down with my head toward the window.

Fast forward to when I picked up the shuttle service that drove me from the Lisbon airport to the house in Cascais that I am renting with three other students in the counseling program: Kara, Bri, and Mike. They are awesome—more on them later.

Many people in Portugal speak English, to the point where I feel a strange compulsion to ask permission to practice Portuguese despite being in a country where that is the national language. Most everyone so far has been very kind and patient about it. Admittedly, I am at the stage where I must practice every sentence or question ahead of time, and then I cannot usually understand the answer. Now that I think about it, I should definitely be asking permission.

My driver, Carlos, was very nice, showing me different notable sites along the route and speaking very slowly in Portuguese so I could try to follow along. I repaid him by embarrassing us both: I wanted to tell him that I was excited to be in Portugal, and I looked up that word in my Portuguese-English dictionary. “Excitado.” Or, in my case, because I am a woman, “excitada.” But I said I am excited, “Eu estou excitada,” and he immediately waggled his finger and shook his head. Apparently, I had told my new friend Carlos that I was aroused to be in Portugal. So that was the first of what will undoubtedly be many gaffes, if I insist on trying to speak Portuguese. And, eu insisto. I just cannot insist as much on understanding the responses.

Does the thought of creating a more fulfilling life for yourself make you excited—not excitado/a? Contact me at valerie@valerieworthington.com or visit me at www.valerieworthington.com. We can channel that energy in a G-rated way.

Next time: My first dinner in Portugal and my and my roommates’ Sunday adventure to the beaches of Carcavelos.