Dear Friends,

It’s almost D-Day– Departure Day. Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” loops in mind. Yes, it’s almost time to see a place I’ve never seen, eat food never before tried, master greetings in an unknown language, and marvel at the magnitude and the teeniness of the world. With an open mind, I’ll embrace what comes and try not to play the comparison game as travelers are wont to do.

Like a drag racer revving the engine in the second lap, these four months have sped by leaving a cloud of dust. When I lived in Tokyo, one friend visited. In Portugal, friends came to visit (my lovely mother, the dearest friend among them). It was lovely to not only have familiar faces in the ‘hood and catch up, but to appreciate the beauty of Lisbon’s streets through the eyes of others.These last two weeks in Cascais have been without visitors, which is apt. This alone time allows me to wrap up and see and do all my favorite things before leaving.

Beside me is the Things to Do Before Leaving Portugal list: 1) Eat a couple more plates of grilled sea bream and potatoes (dourada grelhada) 2) Eat grilled sardines, drizzled in olive oil and served with a carafe of cold white wine, at least twice more 3) Visit magical Sintra, walk through the park, then relish a jumbo scone and jam at Cafe Saudade, with a large pot of jasmine tea 4) Go to a yoga class with Filipa at Flores do Cabo, the art gallery/decor shop that doubles as a studio space, in Colares 5) Take the #403 bus to Guincho and soak up the sun (as much as sunscreen allows) 6) Sit at the side street cafe in Alfama, and listen to fado under the streamer of lights and stars. 7) Go back to the Artesan festival in Estoril, which is on until September 6 8) Walk through my favorite neighborhoods of Lisbon to feel the energy and beats underneath. 9) Take the train to Porto.

In Lisbon, every cobblestone is a drum, every tile on a facade, a stringed instrument. Lisbon’s streets and buildings are full-fledged orchestras; andante; allegro; crescendo; adagio. My canvas-bound feet know the rhythm and keep the tempo…or perhaps, the streets know mine. It leads– slow, a walking pace; lively now, skip a bit; rush and drink and dance and sing; slow now, slow down. Lisbon paced me.

It may be time to leave Portugal, but magical, colorful, gorgeous Portugal, where the streets are filled with poetry, art and music, will never leave me.

Slow down in Sintra

Slow down in Sintra.

Sardines-- truly the Portuguese dish.

The famous tram 28.

Serving ginjinha (a cherry liqeur).

Serving ginjinha (a cherry liqeur).

Azulejo

Azulejo

mum

mamacita in bloom

sardineswall poem

On the streets of Alfama-- Jamaicana in Lisboa.

On the streets of Alfama– Jamaicana in Lisboa.

Beijos.