top of page

The Day I Left Lisbon

Updated: Apr 8

Farewell to the Beco

Farewell to the Beco

In week 49, I left the beco and headed south to write the next chapter of my life in Portugal. 

Saying My Goodbyes

My last morning in my little beco home, I got up and out early, and headed down to the neighborhood café for one last galão with my neighbors. I was really going to miss this spot. I have loved every moment here, even the time spent basking in the disapproving glances from Alfama Dorothy. I would miss the ladies in the mornings with their piles of warm toast and pill boxes as well as the lively afternoon bunch with their “discussions” over beers and coffees. 

As usual, I practiced my Portuguese on my apps and said my Portuguese “good mornings” which I knew were also my goodbyes, with the locals. It was hard to leave but I wanted to get out of the apartment before My Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord or his henchman arrived to deliver their latest empty threats. I paid for my “farewell for now” galão and headed one last time up the beco.

One Last Moment

Back at home, I was sad to say goodbye. I’d loved every moment of watching my neighbors from this window.

There was my favorite old man with whom I spent a lot of time on our bench trying to impress him with any new Portuguese words or phrases I’d learned and playing with his dog Graça.

I will miss the lady that was the first neighbor I spoke to the day I arrived on the beco after hauling my bags up the hill as the men all along my path stood and watched. I remember dragging my bags to the beco’s bench, and looking over to see her watching out her door and smiling as I flexed my mini-arm muscles.

Then there was my “Benfica!” buddy who I randomly watched a Benfica game with once at the wine bar. He didn’t ask who I supported so I did not tell him it was not Benfica. I just enjoyed yelling “Benfica!” to him and getting that in return every time we passed in the neighborhood. We exchanged our actual names once but never used them as it was not nearly as much fun. 

There are too many to mention but their faces all passed through my mind as I stood on my balcony and sent out a heartfelt goodbye to them all. 

Putting Lisbon in the Rear-View Mirror

Finally, I headed down the hill and ordered a car to the station. At 11am, I was on the bus headed to my new home for a month in the Algarve region. 

For the trip, I’d bought the two front row seats so I could enjoy the view from the window. I felt a little like an entitled arse as everyone else was jammed in the back, but sometimes you have to give yourself the moment you need to move on in the way that works best for you. As we crossed the Vasco da Gama bridge, I could not help but look back on the city of Lisbon and wonder if I’d ever return. What would it be like then? Would all my friends still be around? Would I live in the same neighborhood or try something new?

Nightmare on the Algarve Express

Suddenly, I noticed my driver was weaving a bit due to him choosing this moment on the bridge to clean his sunglasses while trying to pass the bus in front of us. I quickly put on my seat belt and tried to remember what a fun and interesting life I’ve had so far. If it all ends here, it’s been a damn good run. 

Miraculously, we did not weave off the bridge and end up in the Tejo. With his clean sunglasses on his face and both hands on the wheel, we were now cruising safely down the interstate. As I was enjoying the beauty of the countryside, he suddenly pulled over on the side of the highway and disappeared behind the bus. I looked at my seatmates across the aisle, and we exchanged confused and concerned glances. 

Great. I leave a psycho landlord and his henchman behind in Lisbon and I am now rolling toward the Algarve in a hostage situation with an unhinged bus driver.

After enough time for three cigarettes and a lap dance, he came back to the bus and with no explanation, started driving again. After a bit, we rolled into a rest stop and the unhinged driver parked, not saying a word as to when we might be leaving. We all quietly exited the bus, afraid to do or say anything that might push him over the edge. 

As quickly as possible, we were all back at the bus waiting, afraid we might be left behind. However, Mr. Unhinged had once again pulled a disappearing act after locking the bus. 

While I waited, I stared at the cars passing on the highway and wondered if this was the moment in my life where I would decide that hitchhiking did not seem so scary after all. Finally, Mr. Unhinged returned and without a word, unlocked and boarded the bus and sat looking uninterested as we climbed back on.

Writing the Next Chapter

Soon after our rest stop, I saw signs saying we were entering the Algarve. Since the unhinged bus driver was out of my control, I tried to focus on the scenery. 

As the bus rolled deeper into the Algarve, I felt similar feelings to arriving in Lake Como after leaving NYC for the first time since the pandemic. There I felt surrounded and protected by the mountains. The experience was very emotional after all the turmoil of the pandemic. 

Here as the rolling hills spread out all around me, I sat in the front seats of the bus and just exhaled. I felt like a blanket of calm was wrapping around me as I prepared to write the next chapter of my life here in Portugal.

5 views0 comments


bottom of page