The voices in the restaurant almost drown out the strains of music. Only three tables are occupied, yet the room seems full– perhaps, it’s the kerosene lamps hanging from the ceiling, the low wooden beams, the black and white paintings, the wall of celebrity photographs. The decor creates warmth. The restaurant, O Pescador (trans. in English as The Fisherman), in Cascais, is a tranquil haven two minutes from the sea.
There’s a faux porthole on the wall that opens onto seascapes. We’re seaside, but there’s no actual window. When I left the house today, it was with no destination in mind and now I sit beside two seas– one real, the other painted.
This morning, I walked past old ladies leaning out of their windows, past gangs of boys whistling, past stray dogs; walked past Arroios, Anjos, Intendente, Martim Moniz, Rossio; danced past nuns, fountains, pigeons. The rain accompanied me; the sun joined us for a moment, but grew bored and left.
Strangers stopped me. “Ha, I’m not from Angola; not from Brazil; not single; not a runner; not an athlete of any kind; not in a hurry. Yes, I can walk with you; help you cross the street; chat awhile.” Let’s speak in Portuguese,”Eu tenho muito tempo,” then I’ll move on to my destination of nowhere. Let me get busy being in love with the streets of Lisbon.
My feet knew where my heart wanted to go, and here I am at O Pescador in Cascais. The waiter, Philip, whom I’d just met, knew what I wanted before I did.
“Do you want to come in?” Yes, it’s cool today. He knew: yes to olive oil drizzled on the grilled squid; yes to fluffy pillows of bread served in a basket, yes to water and a glass of white wine; yes to trying a new dessert.
“This is for you.”
“What is it?”
“Molotov, a soft dessert made from egg whites and sugar.”
It’s raining hard now. Water inside and outside– enough to set thoughts adrift. A seasoned Irish couple enter, “It’s not summer today; I’m sure it’s not,” the woman says.
What is summer if not a day like today? Philip, in his black vest preliminarily swirls the wine; the rain is decisive, yet calm; Os Tribalistas sing about an old childhood; the ocean fights for position in our mouths; we’ve settled into our seats and ourselves; everything we need is graspable. It feels like summer.