this is the archive for the ‘in portugal’ category:


no choice is good choice

it’s been a few months that we’re back in berlin after our spring stint in celorico de basto, a place hidden in the middle of vinho verde land.

everyone thought that we, the globetrotters, were going to hate being holed up in there for two months.

minho

well, the truth is… it was oddly refreshing. i wasn’t expecting it to be so soothing, and i think a big part of that stemmed from not having much to chose from. there was one of everything: one restaurant, one supermarket, three bakeries (this is portugal after all) — and that was enough. it was just pure simplicity, those unadorned, undemanding days where we did the only things we could do.

plus, our internet allowance was limited and thus kept strictly practical: no videos streaming, no music playing in the background, no images cluttering the pages. we did our job and then switched it off and went outside. the inbox got close to zero a few times. my skin regained a bit of its southern shade.

(i had the same feeling once, on a tiny apartment we stayed in where everything was white, clean and uncluttered from the usual paraphernalia that seems to sprout on every surface. no superfluous decorations, nothing in sight… everything was there, but hidden in its right place. i, the queen of messy desks, felt relieved, serene, in peace.)

levada

of course we missed lots of things: friends. the convenience of online retailers, combined with the efficiency of deutsche post. our bed. reliable film shops. the café around the corner. diversity. proper internet. a quiet place to call our own…

but it was strangely refreshing to be away and really focused on a task. no main distractions going on. everything was secondary to the main goal and so every decision became easy, barely a yes or no process.

i don’t know if this makes sense for anyone else… i just wanted to remember this feeling.

analogue wednesday #23

watertank2

watertank

watertank3

our favorite summer activity: dipping our extremities into the ice-cold water of my parent’s water tank. bliss!

a list update: 22% done!

i’ve crossed quite a few random things off my 101 things in 1001 days‘ list in the past few months, so it’s time for a list update. let’s see…

- riding a paddle boat: check!
i spent my birthday this year in amarante with friends, munching on traditional sweets and paddling up and down the tâmega river. the trick to paddle boats is to go slowly! don’t put all your muscle into it, just relax and take it easy :)

- make cheese: check!
we made delicious cottage cheese! the hardest part was locating fresh, unskimmed, unpasteurized milk…
cottagecheese

- reduce our energy consumption in 10%: check!
in 2013, we spent an average of 7.44 kWh/day, but in 2014 this number dropped to 5.32 kWh/day, a 29% reduction! :D

- visit an island: check!
guernsey was all kinds of lovely and we must go back someday.
vrguernsey

- see Daniela get into a university: cheeeeeeeeeeck!
all of that studying back in june/july paid off! the kid managed to get into the nursing school closest to her home, which means she now has a proper chance to finally get out of the village, and do something for herself.
sometimes it’s still hard to believe i saw her come to the world 18 years ago, changed her first diaper in the hospital and all… and now, she’s become this amazing person, a fighter, someone who knows what they want, someone able to make a plan. i’m currently bursting with pride! :)

one second every day – july 2014

july was half-portugal, half-berlin:

my cousin finished her exams and we returned to berlin shortly after – but not before stuffing ourselves with hugs and good food! once back, we mostly caught up on work, friends… and cats! :)

on talking about Postcrossing at TEDxOporto

“i’m a pretty monkey and i know where all the bananas are!”

that’s what i kept repeating to myself before going on stage on tedxoporto in early march. my palms were sweating, my heart was racing, and in my mind, i kept coming back to matt haughey’s pretty monkey’s motto which he wrote about on a post on being an introvert and giving public speeches.

i think both paulo and i are huge introverts. we don’t enjoy the spotlight and if given a chance, we’ll scurry to a quiet corner somewhere rather than shake hands and hand over cards. so when we got this invitation to do a tedx talk in my hometown, our first reaction was a bit uneasy. we love the ted concept and have a huge deal of respect for what they do… but did we have what it takes to be on stage in front of hundreds of people? could we make it interesting enough for them?

we were skeptical… but the organizers were quite adamant and trusted that we’d do a good job. so after some back and forth, in the end we said yes – and quickly sprang into action! for over a month, we plotted, saw dozens of ted talks, took online classes on public speaking, read all the advice we could find, wrote and re-wrote… everyday, we’d finish work and come back to that speech, going over it time and over again. was the message clear? did the structure make sense? and particularly, what did we want people to take away from this?

slowly, we came to the conclusion that what we wanted to achieve through this talk was to make people rediscover the magic of receiving a postcard. i imagined many of them had probably forgotten what that felt like – so i though it was important to replicate this spike of pleasure we feel when we open our mailboxes and find something exciting there. i felt that if i could do that, if that was the one thing they would remember from my talk, then that wouldn’t be so bad!

but… receiving a postcard is not something that can simply be felt through description. so instead, i decided to ask our community if they’d help me share the feeling with the people there, by writing postcards to the attendees. and what do you know? they responded in droves, sending over 1000 postcards in a week!! the turnout was so massive that most people took not just one card home, but two! :) reading through those cards as we put them in envelopes was a really heartwarming experience. all of them were special in their own way – but many even included sweet notes like “please give ana a big round of applause, she’s nervous!” or “so you’re listening to ana talk… i’m sure she’s rocking it!”, which in some cases brought tears to my eyes. the generosity and trust of this community knows no boundaries and i knew then that i had done the right decision in accepting this task.

soooo… on the big day, spiked by adrenaline and with shaky hands, the two of us plus a bunch of tedx volunteers glued all of the 700-something envelopes to the chairs in the auditorium during a coffee break in the talks… and then i went on stage and just did it:

the whole time i was up there, it felt like my heart was going to leap out of my chest… but i’d ran through this presentation so so many times before, it just kind of tumbled out of my tongue in the right sequence. and despite my nightmares (in which i would mix the numbers and say postcrossing had 22 million members instead of postcards), i think it went ok.

looking at it now, i wished i had moved less… or been less fidgety with my hands… or slowed down and looked up more… i guess it’s pretty obvious how nervous i was. when i walked down the stairs after the talk, i had absolutely no recollection of the words i had said!

but i guess the important thing was, i felt the part. i was the pretty monkey, and i knew where ALL the bananas (aka the postcards!) were. so i told everyone, and it was fine. phew! :)

if you’ll allow me my little moment, i’d like to thank our friend joel, who first mentioned the project to norberto at tedxoporto – and of course, to norberto himself, for believing in us. to sofia & andreia for their reassuring support. i’m grateful to all the volunteers who frantically helped us glue hundreds of postcards on the chairs during the break… to my mom for ironing my clothes and fussing over me in her loving way. but most of all to paulo. i said on the talk that we did it, but truth is, he did it. my part on starting this whole postcard revolution was minimal – he’s the real deal here, and i love him for it.