The Portugal Years – This and That

Construction Workers

One thing I learned early on in my time in Portugal was to ignore the comments and catcalls of the construction workers. Salazar’s government followed by a brief tenure of the Communist Party apparently set the construction business on fire. A lot of flats were under construction along a street that I had to traverse on a regular basis. I never learned exactly what they were shouting at me, but I figured I could stay out of trouble if I just refused to make eye contact and looked at the paving stones.

Over time, the blossoming of my pregnant figure became obvious to everyone, including the workers. As soon as they realized that I was pregnant, the comments and catcalls stopped. This respect continued postpartum.

Construction workers in Portugal

Construction workers in Portugal

The Bus

Once Harry could not borrow a car and drive me to my prenatal appointment with Dra. Purificacão; it was for the ultrasound. That day, I had to take public transportation to the hospital where the doctor’s office was to be found and Harry met me there. It was a two-bus project. The second bus I boarded was packed, and the only seat was by a window in the back. The man sitting there stood up to give me the window seat.

Most of the passengers were on their way back to work after their lunch break. The gentleman next to me had eaten something redolent with garlic, and  washed it down with wine. Neither of those fragrances would have bothered me under normal circumstances;  in that warm bus that was wobbling and squished in a small amount of space against the window it caused a revival of nausea. Happily, the nice man exited before it got to critical mass.



Basketball and Water

Naturally the summer that I was in full bloom turned out to be the hottest summer I ever experienced in Portugal. No, it was not my perception. The temperatures in Portugal in summer were typically comfortable and seldom exceeded 80-85 degrees  F.

The worst heatwave lasted most of the week of the Popular Saints holidays. The temperature climbed up to 104 degrees F. It was a time to have the windows open all over the house to try to find a cool breeze. With the neighbors celebrating the saints with grilled sardines and fire crackers an open window meant being cooler, but awake.

To make it even more interesting, a team of American basketball players had arrived to take part in a sports evangelism outreach. Two of them were installed in our spare bedroom. Not to put too fine of a point on it, that meant that things I might have done at night to ameliorate the heat were not possible.

The utilities in Portugal were still working on consistency of service at that time. (Before we got married, Harry survived a two-week stretch of no water.) That really hot week was the week that the water went out. Enter our neighbor, who had a well. She offered her well so we could have water. The two basketball guys got into gear and toted water upstairs where we filled pots and pans and pitchers…and the bathtub.


Portuguese basketball team.

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  1. It seems like every day was an adventure there!

    Wow, was it hot. (The professor is looking outside at the snow-covered ground!)

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    1. Well, yes it was. No snow here. Life is an adventure, don’t you think? And, of course, that covered several months at the least.

      One more, I think, before the baby is born.

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    2. It sure is! And I like it that way. :) (Brings out the Hector in me.)

      Can’t wait. I’m curious about it, you know.

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    3. Hector or Heckler? ;)

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    4. Who’s Heckler?

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    5. He’s a muppet.

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  2. Kevin Spencer · ·

    Wow….lots of ‘color’ in this one. Beautiful detail Susan. And I have a feeling that your pregnancy was an obvious sign of your matrimonial status to the workers. (Well, duh.) Men who, despite their loud and perhaps graphic attempts to get your attention, obviously knew a good thing when they saw it. And based on your descriptions so far of the chivalrous Portuguese, had they known you were married before you began to show, probably most of them would have shown the same respect they did afterwards.

    Great job!

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    1. Thank you, Kevin. I never thought of that. My theory had to do with the Blessed Virgin etc.

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  3. Yay for basketball players making themselves useful! I probably wouldn’t have been too thrilled with company around that time either!

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    1. You have that right! I may or may not have done some whining about that one. We always had to be hospitable to visitors.

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  4. Really enjoyed this entry, and your adept writing making your experiences leap off the page. Oh, that description of the ride on the bus – the garlic and wine. UGH! Chuckling over your not being able to be fully cool what with the basketball players staying on. :)

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    1. Thank you Dancing Rider. I enjoyed writing this one. I had a few short stories and decided to put them into one post. There is one more coming before Year Three begins. Yes, I was not overly thrilled with the basketball players. We always had to be given to hospitality, and most of them were delightful people.

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    2. Nice of you to do that! Very kind! :)

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  5. Of course all of your posta are well written with great pictures but this one seems to translate so well.

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    1. Thank you m’Lady. It was an unforgettable summer.

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    2. I bet :-)

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  6. Sounds like those Basketball players were a blessing in disguise! – Helping to bring the water back to your residence. Almost makes up for the fact that their presence meant to couldn’t cool off as you might have liked.. lol

    Wonderful collection of reflections – almost feels like I am there!


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    1. Hi Miss Lou! Great to see you here. Thanks for your kind words. How are you doing?

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    2. Wonderful, As just about always, busy busy! How about you?

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    3. Not so busy as I used to be, but I am well and keeping occupied. Thank you.

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  7. * Meant you*

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    1. I knew that ! :D

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  8. Last summer we spent considerable time discovering Spain. Regret the fact that we did not use the opportunity to visit Portugal too.


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    1. Maybe another time, Shakti. Portugal is vastly different from Spain from my experience. Thank you for taking time to comment.

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