Saturday, 18 February 2017

Back on the boat (in Lagos marina)

We arrived here last September. Delighted with our decision to overwinter in the Algarve: the countryside is more beautiful than I had realized. (This is where I should fly over a few pix, showing the rolling vine slopes, the rugged rocky cliffs, the ancient hilltop cities -- some dating back to pre-Roman times, and the endless fields filled with olive trees or covered with the cork oaks for which Portugal is famous).
But first words, then pix! As soon as we crossed the river Guadiana that forms the boundary between Spain and Portugal, running south into the Atlantic (west of Gibraltar), we noticed the difference.
Well, of course, the language: we really thought we were hearing Russian until our ears grew acclimatized! I am used to languages where much is swallowed (think of English!) and where the final syllable is dropped. But Portuguese really excels.  I hastily looked up a Centro de Linguas within walking distance of our boat ,and enrolled for ten private lessons, which cost two (people) for the price of one! So David came along too. We had an excellent teacher who soon picked up our love for words, though she couldn't always answer our questions. But her pronunciation was beautiful and still, several months later, in my head I hear her clear diction: moeite bom!
Just before we left in December I enrolled for a follow-up course, more intensive, 15 lessons of two hours ... looking forward to this: starting on Monday.
The weather now is a joy... clear skies and sunshine, occasionally a soft wind, rocking the boat gently, the ropes creaking as they pull. Sounds that rustle through the background and play through my dreams.
How quickly one adjusts to climate change and cramped space: I think I have far too many clothes and shoes on this boat, but of course with somewhat variable weather conditions one does need to be prepared. As soon as I feel my elbows are becoming squashed, I hop off onto the wobbly pontoon and plod cormorant-like to where the ground is steady!
I will also try to fly over a pic of the cormorants, our determined neighbours, who dry their shining wings at the end of our pontoon, diving from time to time into the grey waters, and returning with a fat fish.
I calculate we spent about three months here last year, though with visits to Lisboa and the Alentejo province for olive harvesting. (More pix available!) The plan now is a couple of months in Portugal, maybe a week in Seville, and then back to Amsterdam in April. By which time I aim to be dreaming in Portuguese. At present the dreams are in other languages: in French, Italian and Spanish. English and Dutch are always there, day and night:
fragments of poems, dialogues, songs... The pic is of David and me in trekking gear: I just love the expression on David's face... I suspect he was feeling sleepy!

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