Episode 10 – Lisbon – Columbus, Columbus
Columbus was one mysterious person. The Spanish claimed he discovered the New Continent under the Spanish flag, whereas the Portuguese claimed Columbus set sail 4 times through sponsorship from the Portuguese crown. I am no historian yet I see the strong influence of sea explorers in Portuguese culture. I was just a normal tourist visiting a new place and looking forward to enjoy its food and people.
I had never been to Portugal before but the first impression was not a pleasant one. We ventured from Spain to Portugal and we could feel the mood difference right away. It could be compared to Aesop’s fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant (Portugal the worrier) prepared himself for the influx of the poor economy whereas the grasshopper (Spain the merrier) kept on enjoying the present day pleasure.
Our hotel was close to the seaside. It was supposed to be a vacation area and remained affluent, but there were a lot of empty vacation apartments and the shops were not busy enough. When you stare at the empty, hollow, desperate faces, you cannot see those people are doing well.
We had dinner at a seaside village. The food was good since it was serving all fresh seafood. We were sitting with the locals and they were munching on a kind of very small clam, something you eat with a tooth pick by taking out the meat in the shell. The atmosphere was rather rustic. We could overlook the ocean from our seats.
The entertainment was furbished by an older gentleman with a guitar. He was singing at the top of his voice trying to fight with the crowd. One more handicap was he sang without the help of his teeth. He was trying. We were trying to sing along with him. I did not think either of us was going anywhere.
Back to the discovery monument ( I really do not know who discovered what, or who was the discoverer, or the sponsor of the discoverer), I had to admire the vision that was put into this sculpture.
Not too far away was a version of the old world map on the ground for everybody to walk on. It is the fastest way of moving between continents.We were back on the bus. The driver took the bus around the street corner and there it was waiting for us to discover. There were cars parked on both sides of the street and our extra long bus was locked in a bad position. We could not go forward or backward. The traffic lined back to us was getting longer and longer. Some people were screaming. A taxi cab driver was getting impatient. Our tour guide went to find the policeman on duty. Some suggested to lift up the small cars and threw them on the sidewalk. Some said just run over those little dinky toys. Our driver was trying his best to maneuver out of this predicament. The cop came. He saw the crowd. He pulled out his book and started writing up tickets to appease the angry mob. If I were the owner of any vehicle that caused the blockage, I would flee with no hesitation. I think finally a lot of those cars were pushed aside to create some space so the bus can get through and allow the traffic to resume to its pathetic state
After all these excitement, I was hungry and ready to eat again. Just wait till we got back to the hotel ……..