What Susan Learned In the Woods Behind the University

Waiting for the connecting bus
Waiting for the connecting bus

As I began to have confidence in my ability to find my way around Lisbon, I decided to explore. One day I deviated from my habitual bus route to the University for Portuguese language class. It was broad daylight and the campus was crawling with students and faculty. What could possibly go wrong, right?

At the place where I transferred from one bus to another there was another bus with “University” on the marquee. I looked at it day after day, and wondered why there were two different routes to the school. After long deliberation, I decided one morning  to woman up and satisfy my curiosity.

I may or may not have had a few qualms once I was on board. We were driving in a different direction than my usual bus, of course. As I rode through unfamiliar territory I found myself moving into high alert. I wasn’t sure from where I would be exiting along this route. It was taking longer than my normal transportation, and I nearly missed the exit stop for fear of missing the exit stop.

This bus stopped in back of the University building. Between the bus stop and the University there was a beautiful passage through some woods, and I was the only person walking through it. Due to the longer bus ride, I was moving along with what was for me a brisk clip through the rustling leaves.

Past the halfway point, I felt someone touch me on the shoulder. I jumped, turned around and saw a man who looked like he was “challenged.” He  beckoned me to follow him, and followed up the invitation with some gestures that needed no translation. I moved away quickly and repeatedly yelled in both English and Portuguese, “No!!! Não!!!”

I am more of a meanderer than a sprinter, but on that day I might have come in first in a 5K run. I ran straight to the café in the University and got a “bica” (espresso) to calm my nerves that worked so well I nearly fell asleep in class. Looking back, I think that my admirer probably had gotten loose from The Punchy Lands population.

What kind of close calls have you survived? Do you have any advice about exploring? What is the lesson that Susan learned?

17 thoughts on “What Susan Learned In the Woods Behind the University

  1. Firstly, I love the title to this post! 😆

    I think the professor would have probably explored too. I would have been to curious not to.

    And what a scary situation! Did the fellow try to chase you? I think I would have either done what you did, or beat him once or twice. 🙂

    I’m not sure if I remember any close calls or anything, but the professor does remember an incident when I had traveled to Montreal. I was stopped on the sidewalk (a busy one too) by an older woman, who said something about the professor being gifted or something like that.

    But we’d never met! It was strange indeed.

    The professor’s only advice would be to carry a weapon! 😉

    (And I do think the fellow must have escaped from the PL! 😆 )


    1. That may just be the answer to how it was that Malone decided to show up!!!!

      Montreal! Awesome! I was there for about 15 minutes one chilly spring night.

      Maybe the woman was asking you for a gift?


    2. I don’t think I can rate it on the creepy scale as I was not there and did not see nor hear her. I can, however, say that it was certainly out of the ordinary. Which may or may not be a creepy thing. 😀


  2. Golly. You know, I can sympathize with the poor man. Women nearly always have that exact reaction when I approach them, too. 😀

    Another fascinating installment! Thank you Susan.


    1. Thank you, little brother, for making me laugh. And for reading my little essays. You know, I can’t exactly picture him in my head anymore, but I sure remember how I felt!


  3. It was awesome reading your story…Well bad things happen at bus stops 😉 I use the formula of Ignoring even in extreme cases 🙂 Hope you have a good experience next time !


    1. Indeed. I have worked with children and adults with disabilities, but that man made it pretty clear what his hopes were. No sense it stopping to argue in that case.


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