Dear Friends,

When I opened my bedroom window, and soon after the kitchen window, the views were identical: raindrops suspended on the edge of the frame, white houses and apartment buildings with rust-colored roofs, large trees, the sea.

Yesterday, I moved from Lisbon to Fontainhas, which is a town fifteen minutes on foot from the center of Cascais. On April 16, I wrote a note to myself that I wanted to find: a one-bedroom, 15 minutes or less from the beach, not on the ground floor, 450 euros or less per month. After voicing the wish to live in Cascais, to a complete stranger, she told me, “I have a friend who has a friend who’s a real estate agent. He may have a place like that.” On Tuesday, I viewed the apartment, and it fit the bill perfectly.

A taxi from Lisbon to Fontainhas is 40 euros, so Agostinha, my Airbnb hostess called Taxi Tours. It was unfathomable to consider tackling  the subway with a box sent from Japan to Germany to Lisbon, an overweight suitcase, two bags, a laptop that already dropped on the last trip, and a mat. At 9:15am, Paulo, the driver, placed everything in the trunk of the sedan, gave me a bottle of water, and we were on our way. He filled the half hour drive with funny stories comparing Brits to Americans, Portuguese history, and shopping advice. We drove past the oldest aqueduct in Europe, gardens and parks, museums, and a roadside Staurday flea market.

When we arrived, Hugo, the real estate agent, was waiting in front with the keys and contract. Hugo deserves a post of his own– he drove me around town showing me where to find the Post Office, the Financas Office, the shopping mall. We went to Cascais shopping where an Internet USB pen was bought, then he called the company, waited on hold for far too long, and set it up.

The apartment was nicer than when I saw it. On the table by the front door, the landlady had placed a vase of pink and white carnations with a sign that said, “Welcome;” in the kitchen, a cloth basket with lemons, still on the stem, was on the counter; in the fridge, a bottle of rosé and a large bottle of water; beside the bed, a clam-shaped woven dish filled with Ferrero Rocher gold-wrapped chocolates.

Since last May, I’ve lived in six countries for a month or more, and it feels good to rest here; to sea the see from every window; to learn the language; to befriend locals; to sleep deeply; to listen to the rain in symphony on the sloping window above my head.

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Love,

Val