The Portugal Adventure – Bienvenido a España

On the Road Again

At last my lunch arrived, and since everyone else had already been served, I ate hurriedly. In addition to the everlasting lunch wait, the rest rooms were the worst  I had ever seen. I was not sorry to say “adios” to the café.

That first day was long. One of the young Portuguese, Tó, spoke English relatively well, and he rode in the same van with Harry and me, ostensibly so that I would not feel completely cut off  by the rapid Portuguese conversations. The teens’ discourses were almost constantly flowing and ebbing in the vehicle.

The translating began well, but when you don’t use a language on a regular basis, it is exhausting to sustain a conversation in it. Tó did valiantly, but as he and Harry became involved in some of the other interactions, I found myself listening to a lot of Portuguese. They translated in short hand from time to time, which was just enough to frustrate me because I wanted to be able to join in the conversations, and could not.


The next stretch of driving ended around 9:30 p.m. in Madrid. We stopped at a restaurant for supper where we exited the vehicles, stretched our legs, and waited to see if the place was open. After some “conversating” with the management, they agreed to open early for us. Yes, in Spain 10 p.m. is an early supper.

We were seated, and the waiter gave us menus. I was determined to avoid another omelet situation, so I kept away from the “tortillas,” which is what they are called in Spain. (If you feel confused, imagine how how this morning lark [me] was handling supper at that hour – and dealing with three languages.) I found something on the menu that I recognized: pollo. Yes, chicken! I ordered it. Orders made, the Portuguese asked me what I was eating, and that was how I learned that they say, “frango” (frahn’ goo) for chicken. Two languages so similar to each other had two wildly different words for chicken!

In the long interval between ordering, and eating, the Portuguese tried valiantly (and successfully) to converse with me. 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, and that in Portuguese “casada” = “cansada” in Spanish. 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 kind of hilarity, and it was contagious.

I looked to Harry for help, but would you believe the man was still laughing his head off 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 more words of explanation, and I got the word play: casada =  married and cansada = tired. I laughed again with them. After some thought, I realized the humor was the right hand of fellowship. I knew then that I could love these people. Who else did I know who could make me laugh even when I didn’t know
what was so funny?

We finished eating around midnight, and went outside. I was amazed at all of the people milling around downtown Madrid – including even very young children. Harry told me that is because they take a three-hour siesta from 1 p.m. till 4 p.m.That is a cultural idea I could seriously get into. Except, maybe, the part about being up till midnight.

On to Barcelona

It was quieter on the ride to Barcelona. We stopped there at the Spanish branch of the mission, and they put us up for the night. I don’t remember much that happened after dinner, but I do remember how grateful I was for the growing friendships, and that I had a bed and a pillow at the end of that long, long day.

The Portugal Adventure – Bavaria: Bad Tölz

On the Alpen trail
No words.
Someone is about to get a snowball down their neck.
Yes, that is me bending over, playing in the snow in August.
On top of the world!

So far on the trip, Harry was friendly, but not making any declarations. I figured that if nothing else, I was making friends with the Portuguese girls in my dormitory, and if the worst thing that happened to me was a trip through Europe, I would have a blessed life. So, I decided to enjoy every moment of every day. Then, we visited Bad Tölz.

Bad Tölz is a fairy tale town with the Alps for its background. We visited the town, then drove to Blomberg Mountain. In the winter, it is a ski resort, and it has a bob run for the summer visitors. The bob run is 1250 meters long with 40 very sharp twists and turns, and 17 steep curves. The summer bob has a lever in the middle that lets you control (at least somewhat) the velocity at which you descend. It’s all good as long as the person behind you sees you around one of those sharp twists before they are in your bob.

If memory serves me, we took the ski lift part-way up, then hiked to the top of the Blomberg. I was in pretty good shape at the time, but with the altitude, and steepness of the slope, it was challenging. Half-way up, the path steepened. Harry held out his hand to help me get over the steep place – and evidently decided that I needed his hand to get the rest of the way up. I was not averse to the assistance, and we arrived at the top together.

On the way back down, we took the summer bob. What fun!  One of those sharp curves dumped both of us over the edge of the track.

summer blob

This  post is mostly photographs. The photos do not do justice, but they are better than words.

Village of Bad Tölz.
Bad Tölz
Bad Tölz
Ski lift at the Blomberg
The summer bob!
Where the hike began
Field director’s wife climbing the Blomberg
On the way down to the summer bob

The Portugal Adventure – Beautiful Bavaria: The Waiting Lady

The days melted away like a snow cone in summer. There were plenty of things to do at camp when we weren’t sight-seeing. Harry was busy, and though we talked as often as possible, by the last day at camp I still hadn’t heard the words that I was waiting to hear.

On that day, we read a devotional together, and prayed. Then, we talked. Harry said that he sure would like to date me. I responded enthusiastically. He then said, “It would be pretty hard to date with you in the states, and me in Portugal. I felt rebuffed.

What did he mean by that? I was on tenterhooks all day. Every time I added everything up, it did not seem like it should have been a “goodbye, nice to know you.” But it felt like it.

In the afternoon, I wandered around the campground watching the various activities. The castles were on Lake Starnberg, and some of the campers went swimming. Though it was August, the air was too cold in Bavaria for me to want to test the waters!

Lake Starnberg

Some campers played tennis.

Others played volleyball.

Harry and I went to see the sunset on Lake Starnberg.


There were swans.

We took pictures of each other.

Then, we went to get ready for the closing night banquet. Never ever tell me that it takes women longer than men to get ready. I was dressed up, and ready awhile before Harry appeared.

All of my dorm mates asked on a regular basis what was going on with Harry and me. I told them I would like to know that answer to that question, too. That evening, when I was getting ready, they asked again. Remembering the remark of the morning that I did not understand at all, I burst into tears. They gathered around me, and helped me with my hair and makeup, and were so affirming and encouraging that I was able to face the evening with a smile.

Harry appeared in his Portuguese suit. If he wasn’t so tall, he could have passed for a Portuguese man any day of the week. I searched his face, but he wasn’t giving away anything as far as I could tell.

The banquet food was delicious, and I enjoyed our last dinner in Bavaria. The next day, we would begin our journey south back to Portugal.

What would come next?

…and the lady waited…

The next post is here.

The first part of this story may be read here.