http://www.greece-map.net/europe.htm if you’d like to map the trip.
On the road – Harry conferring with Tó Figueira. Tó was one of the young adults who worked with the Americans.
On the Road
Ebullient teens crammed the vans with suitcases and bodies. The astonished sun blinked as he peered over the horizon. Vigorous activity at this early hour seemed indecent. The babbling of Portuguese language assaulted my sleepy ears. One year of Spanish in high school did not begin to cover the differences between the countries.
The hot desert held little charm. With the of sunrise it had turned into a sauna. But the heat did not deter the teens. Our boys thrust their heads out of the window and bellowed cat-calls to the girl of each town. Then we stopped at a café for lunch. There was no menu.
I should have ordered whatever every else had. What was meant to be a short stop ended nearly two hours. The rest rooms were the worst I had ever walked into. I managed to enter and exit without touching anything. I was not sorry to say “adios” to the café.
Tó’s English was good, and he had declared that he would translate the conversations for me. I put too much faith in that promise. The translating began well, but it is exhausting to sustain a conversation in a sometime language. More frequently, Tó and Harry were involved in other conversations.Without translations. I found myself listening to a lot of Portuguese.
We arrived in Madrid about 9:30 that evening tired and hungry. As I was wondering where we would find a place that was open. We walked up to a restaurant, and the place was closed. My stomach kind of rumbled. It was a long time since lunch. with the management, they agreed to open early for us. Yes, in Spain, 10 p.m. is an early supper.
The waiter seated us and gave us menus. I now had three languages to field. I recognized “pollo.” Yes, chicken! I jumped on it. Orders made, the Portuguese asked me what I was eating, and that was how I learned that Portuguese chickens are “frangos.” And we waited. A long time.
During the long interval between ordering and the eating, the Portuguese tried valiantly to converse with the exhausted Americana. They were indefatigable. Finally, someone asked me, “How are you?” slowly, and in Portuguese. I dredged up my high school Spanish and responded, “Estoy cansada.” (I am tired.”) My interrogator instantly came back with something that the folks around us found hysterically funny. She repeated it again slowly in Portuguese: “Estás cansada, ou casada?” I thought that I was getting a Portuguese language lesson. But, from the tone of the laughter it occasioned, it had nothing to do with a vocabulary malfunction. It was more like they were laughing at a joke. And and it was contagious.
I looked to Harry in my best damsel in distress expression. Would you believe that man was still laughing hysterically at this joke that I did not understand? Finally, he caught his breath, and told me: “She asked you if you were tired, or married.” A few explanations, and I got the word play: casada = married and cansada = tired. I laughed again, this time with them. I recognized that the humor was the right hand of fellowship. I knew then that I could fall with love these people. Who else did I know who could make me laugh even when the joke was on me?