Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Life in Portugal

Hello all,

Four weeks ago(ish) I arrived in Portugal to wild fanfare and much rose throwing. The crowds greeted me with traditional dancing and the ladies swooned as I rode through the streets.


Four weeks ago(ish) I arrived in Portugal, met my school director, and traveled to my new home Estoril. I looked around for apartments that same day and within a few hours (and 48 euros worth of phone calls) found my new apartment. It's great! I live on the fifth floor of my building, basically have a rap around veranda that overlooks Estoril, Cascais, and the ocean, and have redecorated enough that I feel quite comfortable now. I have a good sized kitchen, especially considering the closets some of the other places called kitchens, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. So anyone who would like to come visit...there is plenty of space waiting for you!

I get to school on the city bus each morning at a bit after seven. School starts at eight thirty so I get plenty of time in the mornings to make sure that I have things ready for the day. The school is well equipped with a laminator, book maker, and I'm even allowed to make my own copies which is SOOOOO great!!! I have 22 kids from all over the world. I think last time I checked we've got kids from China, Japan, Turkey, USA, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Peru, and India. They are a really good group of kids, I've had a great start to the year. My overall hesitation about teaching older kids is being put to rest. It kinds of help that I've been spending 11 hours at school though so I can stay on top of things. I would like to think I've learned a lot from my past few years of teaching and am really working hard to keep on top of things. My room is full of classroom management stuff too so that the kids have a routine and know what is expected of them. It's made things work so much smoother.

I've been making friends with a lot of the teachers here at school. They've been showing me where to go out here, which is really nice. The other night after I had a dozen people over to mine for drinks and snacks a few of us went out and ended up at a bar/dance club that had a 250 euro entrance fee (which my friend helped us bypass because it was her birthday) which was the most ridiculous place I've ever been in my entire life...ever! Bad red plush booths, horrible music that was so bad that you had to dance to it, people trying to act awesome because they'd just payed a small fortune to get in, it was hilarious and we stayed till five something cutting a rug. It was one of those things were I would look around every now and then and laugh just for the absurdity of the situation (kind of like when I went dancing this past summer in Augusta; if you haven't read about that check out my blog at Anyway, all that is to say that I am making some friends over here, the people I work with are really great, some of the most helpful people ever, and that I'm not sitting around every night twiddling my thumbs.

Last Sunday I woke up for church. There is a church of England not five minutes from my house. The crowd is a bit older than me... by a few decades, but it was good to go to a church where I felt very comfortable with the service. The Father used to be a vicor in England too so he has this wonderful accent! I really enjoyed it and will work harder to wake up on Sunday mornings from now on.

Tonight I'm going to go for a try with the Lisbon Casuals, which is a local football club/soccer team. It'll be great to get out and kick about again. I'm a bit out of shape though so will see what happens with that.

I did get a chance to go for a Hash run on Saturday. It was more family oriented than the group I used to run with in Freetown but the opportunity to see more of the country is wonderful. We ran through the Sintra hills which were beautiful.

I have had the opportunity to see some amazing cultural festivities in my few weeks here. There was an art fair just down from my house throughout the month of August which I managed to go to twice. There were lots of neat arts and crafts and the second time I went I watched a dance group perform traditional Portuguese dances. That was wonderful. I also had the opportunity to go see a big band call The Weasel perform in Cascais. I wasn't super into it but the square where they performed was packed with people from newborn to needing a cane to get around. The people were fun to watch. Every Friday and Saturday they shoot off fireworks over the ocean which are great to watch.

This past Sunday I went to a palace in Sintra and watched a play with nine new friends. The play happened in the gardens of the palace and we walked through them as the play progressed. It was really weird, maybe moreso because I didn't understand anything that was going on as it was all in Portuguese, but really good to see anyway. The gardens were beautiful, some of the comedy was visual so I got to laugh at that, and the play ended with a traditional wedding festival dance around the garden which was super fun because you don't need to speak Portuguese to dance.

Umm... other stuff... I'm eating a lot of pork and beef. I had octopus the other day in the spirit of trying new things and actually did o.k. until I got to the sucker bits. That part wasn't so great.

I will be voting in the upcoming election. People may or may not be talking about it much here. I don't understand most of what is said around me so... We talked the other day about McCain's choice of runningmate. That caused a bit of a stir.

My aquisition of the language is going painfully slowly although the Portuguese people I've been hanging out with have told me that I'll pick it up with no problem. I try not to scoff to hard at them for their niceness. I am looking to sign up for classes as soon as I figure out which nights football happens.

I miss Freetown... a lot. It's hard not being there, missing my kids, my friends, that way of life. It's true that things there were hard but it really was two of the best years of my life. God really blessed my time there. I wasn't sure about things here for the past couple weeks but am starting to feel that things here are going to work out. God has a purpose and all, we'll see what comes of it.

So yeah, that's all I can think of at the moment. I'm sure that I missed talking about something but it's twenty to six and I'm starting to think more of getting home than the things I've missed. Sorry. Please remind me about the things you've asked me that I've forgotten to mention.

Love you all,
God bless,
Justin Wallace