The Great Plotnik

Thursday, November 01, 2012

11-1 Faro


They stop the bus at the Portuguese border to look at passports. The guards look like all border guards - no nonsense types. Plot asks if he can take a picture of the building with the three flags and the guard laughs and says "ha ha, nao." No.

The bus, heading west and a little south, is going much slower now. It's as if the exuberance of the Andalucians (southern Spanish) has given way to the sombreness of the Algarvans (southern Portuguese) and the bus feels it too. The gears grind, there are more roundabouts, the roads are bumpier, each town where the bus throttles to a stop is poorer and more disheveled.

We reach Faro and it looks pretty good. The bus station w.c. doesn't smell, for one thing. But there are few people on the streets. Also, nobody really gets off the bus but us. And they speak Portuguese in Portugal, in which Plotnik took a minor in college, but while it is easy to read, unlike Catalan was in the north, it is more difficult to understand than he had expected.

"Doozentsh metsh," for example, which is what the old man with the plaid shirt and the plastic bag of garbage slung over his shoulder, says to Plotnik with a nod of his head to the right.

He means 200 meters. "Doscientos metros," in Spanish, becomes "doozentsh metsh" in Portuguese, plus there's the issue of not knowing how much 200 meters actually IS, and there are new little alleyways to turn into every fifteen feet, and how many metsh was that?

The Hotel Santa Maria is perfectly fine, cheap (56 euros including a big breakfast) and kind of in the center of town. Dinner is feijoada instead of tapas and that's very nice. Plot and Duck make plans to tour the old city in the morning after going to the train station to buy tickets for Lisbon in the afternoon.

See, you can't take a train from Seville to Lisbon without going all the way back through Madrid. You can't rent a car and take it across international borders and the cost of flying is astronomical. That leaves the bus, but you can't take one bus, you have to take two, the first to Faro, then get off and pick up another to Lisbon.

So why not spend the night? Break up the trip? Plus, there's a TRAIN to Lisbon from Faro! Hurrah! No more buses!

Wrongy Dongy. There is a train, but there isn't a train. What there is is a Greve Geral!! General Strike Today!! No Trains!! Viva Solidarity!! All you bloated plutocrat capitalist swine can just walk to Lisbon. Or stay in depressed Faro where everything is closed.

Why is everything closed? Because what there also is is a Catholic SuperHoliday: All Saints Day. Maybe that's what those Klan guys in the gift shop window in Seville were all about. Result: everything in Faro is closed. Everything. Except the bus station, which is jammed because the trains are on strike.

Your option is to get your fat, puffy, hotel-breakfast asses back on the bus.

Ah, mierda ("merda" in Portuguese). (Plotnik is back on the bus to Lisbon. He's got plenty of time. We can have a conversation about how "mierda" (shit) and "muerta" (dead) seem to share some kind of linguistic and philosophical root.)(OK, no.)

Ah, Faro. The high season is over. The tourists have gone back to Germany, England and France. Graffiti and broken window glass are everywhere. The old man with the bag of garbage is actually part of the garbage pickup system here. Lots of old men, and from what Plotnik can see, they miss a lot.

The old town -- well, nice place to put a castle but you wouldn't want to live there. And Plot and Duck just came from Seville, and Granada, and Toledo. Don't Old Town ME, Faro.

The harbor is lovely, of course, but, you know...we think about all those boats washed up in Staten Island that we saw on the news last night. We're wondering if flying into NY next Monday will work out? The Great PD, 5H, BB and +One are fine, but no one can go to work or school. Dance-nik says her local Brooklyn bar is packed.

Thank the Lord they don't live in Manhattan. Lower Manhattan - Plot and Duck's old turf -- smashed. It's unbelievable to think about. But, at least -- P-Town and Brooklyn are suffering only inconvenience.

Plotnik thinks he could tell his kids, who are going a little stir crazy being home with their bored child, as are all their friends with kids, whose schools have been canceled for at least one week, to remember no more mumps, no more measles, no more chicken pox. We stayed home with our kids a lot, and they were sick, and then we got sick. PD still owes his dad for the chicken pox.

And this really is nothing to joke about. So many people hurting. How does any government manage to pull so many strings, fix so many holes, put so many people back into their old lives? The problems are monumental.

Plot is glad he's going back. Maybe there's something he can do?


At 7:03 PM, Blogger mary ann said...

Great and amusing post and we are looking forward to your visit to Lisbon.


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