São Luís

Hey, it’s me again. It’s been a whirlwind these past few days- the second we got off the bus in Milfontes (fresh off of a 3 hour trip through the wonderfully scenic country that is Portugal), our host Marta de Menezes picked us up, accompanied by three other artists who were staying at Cultivamos Cultra as well; Manuel Fertado, a Portugese intellectual who can talk for hours about art and philosophy and just life in general (and refuses to go to bed until every pot in the kitchen is scrubbed cleaner than when it was first manufactured), Maja Smrekar, a Slovenian artist with an infectious laugh and two adorable dogs who I have come to adore (Byron, a border collie who has mastered the art of forcing fetch upon all of humankind and Ada, an Icelandic angel of a puffball who looks like an arctic fox and who’s likeness I must secure for my own some day- Lord Byron and Lady Lovelace), and Alan Tod, a mustachioed, red and white striped shirt wearing, rolls-his-own-ciagrettes French artist “working for Love” with an impressive green thumb and understanding of the world (seriously, look up “French Artist” and I guarantee Alan will pop up grinning ear to ear). After a brief introduction, we all agreed that it was time for lunch. I, of course, hopped into the car that had the dogs in the back and we zipped off to the restaurant (almost all the cars in Portugal are tiny and efficient, probably because the roads are so small). Of course, the first restaurant that we dine in is located right on the coast of Southern Portugal, and the view from our table consisted of high, treacherous looking cliffs that fell down to kiss the frothy, tumultuous waves that stretched out into sparkling oblivion as far as the eye could see. Unreal. Once again, I opted for an an authentic Portuguese meal; roasted squid with sweet potatoes (the sweet potatoes in Portugal are much different; they’re yellow instead of orange and far sweeter- they tasted almost like maple). After we finished eating we ordered every single dessert on the menu (when you do this in Portugal it is called “the pajama”, which I had to explain meant “pjs” or “sleep clothes” to me). After inhaling the fantastic false pjs and slurping down some much needed espresso, Maja, Ellen, Katie and I decided to simultaneously stretch our legs and take the dogs for a walk whilst also exploring the coastline (I found it pretty amusing that I would still be wading into the waters of the Atlantic- would it still be considered coast to coast if its the same coast? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night- that, and the jet lag that I still can’t seem to shake). After a lengthy exploration, we somehow managed to climb back up the cliff face without falling, packed into Maja’s tiny blue car and sped off to the Portuguese version of a supermarket. Under Marta’s instruction, we collected a few things for dinner and *finally* we left Milfontes and headed towards the village where we would be spending the majority of our time; São Luís (of course the road there was through some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen; rolling hills, fantastic smelling flora, rivers, farm animals- all against a seemingly always clear, perfectly blue sky. The air was so delicious I toyed with the idea of sticking the entire upper half of my body out the window and opening my mouth just to inhale more of it, but the road was so twisty I fear I would have been flung from the car and my trip would have been cut much too short. So I stayed seated, unwillingly). São Luis is a small village with a lot of character and beautifully colored houses, and you could probably walk from one side of the village to the other in only 30 minutes time. We pulled into Marta’s farmhouse and it was gorgeous- so old and rustic, like something out of a fairytale or a vintage foreign film. We got the grand tour, of course, before finally settling all of our things into our room (Katie and I would be sharing one- the beds were so tiny and low to the ground but I loved it. We even had our own view of the street.) For dinner, Marta prepared an incredible fresh vegetable soup, which was accompanied by bread both baked and picked up from the town market that morning (so soft and sweet it didn’t need any butter at all for taste) and sautéd sausage and chorizo on the side (holy shit. That is all.) And, of course, a refreshing glass (or two) of Portuguese Vinho Verde. If dinner is going to be like every night, I will be coming back to the States quite a bit larger than when I left. No matter- one can always jog or something right? Right. Anyway- after hilarious dinner conversation about life and love and European vs American politics (you know its bad when people from other countries are even shitting on Trump…) followed by our “dessert” (acorn liqueur.. surprisingly sweet and addicting. Squirrls might know what they’re doing after all), we all said our goodnights and I hit my bed harder than my pup Maverick hit his head off the wall at the bottom of the stairs when he sneezed and lost his balance (don’t worry, he has a hard head and he was fine). Damn, I miss that goof of a creature. Mav, if you’re reading this, I love you and I miss you and you better not be making out with anyone else while I’m gone.. because I will find out.