Friday, January 02, 2009

In the Pissings, Pt. 1-2...

As the morning rain abated we stepped onto the tracks in front of our flat and trudged up the street for a hike through the back alleys and tumbling tile stairways of Alfama. We ignored the wretched Australia billboard, crossed the palm-lined lot across the street from the waterfront, and hoofed it to the bayside metro station. Alas, all was grim - there was no boardwalk or pedestrian square, just a fenced patch of squalid sand with seabirds picking at the chips and cigarette butts tossed by disinterested tourists. Instead, we headed back toward the Baixa, stopping first at a newsstand for last Thursday's Die Zeit, then at an off-license to purchase a lethal-looking bottle of medronho. Stepping back onto the thoroughfare, we passed a rotund, dissolute gent wearing bright green trousers and an open-necked pink shirt, and as his sycophantic retainers giggled and conspired, the skies opened up again. We had an umbrella, but were nonetheless quickly drenched. It helps to remember that we're closer to Africa than to Iceland here. When it pours, it either drizzles miserably, or gushes without relent.

Through a gauntlet of cafe touts and opaque curtains of rain we made our way along the tiles to the stop for the 28 electrico. Mercifully, the tram was only half-full. As we slid into the rear standing compartment, I accidentally opened my camera's battery port. The carriage turned sharply to the right, and a AA cell shot between Claudia's feet to my left...

The driver stopped for something, perhaps a flock of nuns, or a dithering motorist. The sounds inside the tram were unusually loud, unusually soothing...

The electrico groaned, and we rode its jolts and shudders downhill to the door of Ti-Natércia. Three quick steps and we were out of the rain, shaking droplets off our clothes in the musty foyer.

We've just ruined dinner, but the medronho went down like a buzzbomb.

TS, Lisboa

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