Today I was forced to find a laundrette. Sad I know, but one has to maintain a normal life when everything around you is completely abnormal.
The woman there asked me outright which language I would prefer to speak to her in so I said Portuguese. She rattled away in Spanish for a while so I took the bait and asked her in Spanish what time it would be finished at. She said quarter past eleven… In French… I said I’d see her then in Portuguese and she asked me what my name was in French again. I answered in French then she told me hers in Italian and then she said “Danke”…
It’s too early for this volume of languages. Fortunately I could understand her. But when I got out I really had no idea how I did. I speak little to no French. Or Italian. Or German. Or Portuguese really let’s be honest here. It was a confusing exchange. I think she was just showing off.
I’ve been working every day so far and today I switch to afternoon shifts. I’ve been getting used to the software we have and getting used to sharing a room with eleven people all the time. The only downside is that I feel like I’m constantly “on.” I can’t just be grumpy in my room where no guests can see because they see me all the time and constantly want to ask me things. But apart from that I’m having a lot of fun getting to know everyone here. I’ve found maybe the only other person in Portugal who knows and loves Honey Boo Boo Child. Which is great, obviously. We had a great laugh.
In other news I nearly killed a guest by feeding her a pistachio nut. No, she wasn’t allergic. She freaking ate the entire thing, shell and all. Turns out she had never seen one. I felt terrible!! I also gave a guest a bandage when she asked me for a sanitary towel. The more you know…
On Sunday there was an enormous protest in Lisbon. It was a general strike against Troika, the German company which is offering to help Portugal out of the economic crisis. Many people don’t agree with the rule changes and tax cuts etc. My Portuguese isn’t good enough to really grasp what they were chanting. One of them was “Que se Lixe a Troika” which is like let’s throw the Troika out like trash. I was told there were half a million people just in Lisbon protesting, and around a million more over the country. Which is pretty impressive. If we consider the riots that happened a couple of years ago in London that nearly destroyed the capital, Lisbon got off very lightly with just a bit of littering and light arson – someone always sets a bin on fire…
As you can see from the photos there was hefty police presence, even though we got to the square just after the march was over. There’s maybe about 16 vans just for that one square, and there were more all over the city.
And there were also people protesting just anything they believed in. Like the trickling gay rights parade at the end like you see here. >
To be honest, I’m quite glad I missed the march. It was violent or scary but it’s what I’d call “chilling.” Coelho is the current leader in Portugal, whose name means rabbit. There were a lot of real rabbits being hung from sticks and swung around. Not violent, but menacing. Weird.
Anyway, I’ll leave you on that cheery note. I am working from three until nine today and tomorrow and then I finally have a day off! Oceanarium here I come!