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Embracing New Perspectives

Updated: Apr 8

The Terrifying Almada Elevador…aka DeathTrap (photo by author) In week 42, I embraced the spirit of the holiday season and tried to focus on the positive side of all the things in my life.

Giving up the Fight

As the drama with My Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord drags on against the backdrop of my favorite time of year, I have grown increasingly tired of the negativity. Having to deal with such a dark soul drains me of my otherwise happy mood. He is responsible for being the one person that has sucked some of the joy out of an otherwise excellent first year in lovely Lisbon.  I had seriously entertained the idea of taking the power out of my name, effectively shutting it off for others in the building. My plan was to go to the electric company and make the change the day before my flight to the US for the holidays. That morning arrived and the weather had improved with a break in the incessant rains as the sun made an appearance. My neighbors were in the ancient streets, going about their days, enjoying the sun for a change. They were all smiling and happily chatting with one another. The joy was infectious.  The peaceful mood of the day did not match the afternoon task I had planned.Suddenly, I did not want to spend my afternoon shutting the power off for my neighbors, despite the fact it is the only way I can think of to resolve the problem. Additionally, I worry my favorite neighbor might also be on my account as he is in an adjacent building also owned by My Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord. After all he has been through I cannot bring myself to shut his power off for what might be days, if the landlord restores it at all. So instead, I headed to the “Living Room of the Alfama”, ordered my galão, and quietly watched my neighbors enjoy the sunny day. It was a much better use of my time. 

Perpetually Positive Clara (photo by author)

Conquering Fears and Discovering a New Perspective

The nonstop rains had effectively canceled our poker night which takes place on my friend’s large outdoor patio. This week, our friend and poker mate, Clara, who lives across the river, invited us to her house for a special holiday game on Sunday afternoon. Clara lives in Almada, a neighborhood I had explored a few times without being even the slightest bit impressed. I was interested to visit my friend’s place and hopefully discover a part of the neighborhood I had not previously explored.

Clara’s directions to her place took me down a path, mostly by the river. I had walked this way before but never taken the terrifying elevador to the top, where Clara’s house was located. I have since learned this deathtrap is called the “Elevador Panorâmico da Boca do Vento” or “Panoramic Elevator of the Mouth of the Wind”.  When walking by the river before, I had assumed it was just a tourist attraction allowing a good view of the city from the cliffs above. However, I should have realized that with all the funiculars and elevadors in the city that are intended to make it more livable given all the hills, this was actually for locals to get from the riverfront to the cliffs above, or more specifically for me to get to Clara’s house.

Very apprehensively, I entered the elevador and pushed the button for the top. As the elevador doors closed, someone ran up at the last minute and jumped on with 4 others. That was about all the room the car had and I was now pushed up against the big windows that allowed me to see the terrifying fall to my death I would take if this deathtrap plummeted. 

After my life flashed before me about 3 times, the elevador reached the top. After making my way along the path hanging high in the sky, I finally made it to firm ground. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in a rather cute neighborhood. There were a few shops and restaurants dotted along the streets as I made my way to Clara’s, a short walk from the elevador of death. As I got closer, things started to look a bit more familiar. Suddenly, I noticed a pub where I had watched some football on one of my two previous trips to this neighborhood. 

As I arrived at Clara’s, I realized I was standing in front of the house on the square that I noticed when I first went over. It was the only one that was not falling apart as I had discovered back then. She renovated the building and rents out the bottom apartment. Now the building next to Clara’s is covered with scaffolding. She said they are adding floors on top of the building that will partially block the sun in her garden out back. She seemed a bit unhappy about that but shrugged it off. 

Clara is one of those people that just exudes happiness. Even if she is having a bit of a rough day, you still want to hang out with her as she just muddles through without complaining. She welcomed us to use her back garden and had tables set up for our poker game. About halfway through the game, she made us pause so she could serve a meal of two curries she made. 

It was so lovely to sit there with new friends from my first year in Lisbon. Clara pointed out as she looked down the table at the 7 of us “This is really the core group. This year. This is us.” 

As I sat looking at the faces of my new friends around me, I realized what a wonderful first year in Lisbon it has been. 

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