portugal part four: fear of the unknown

once greg planned the trip to portugal, the option of visiting my aunts was brought up by my dad (they never left sao miguel).  i have never met nor have i ever spoken to them and to be truthful i have only met one cousin on my dad's side in the past 30 years. here's the problem, they speak not a word of english!  this fact alone brings up a feeling of anxiety deep inside me, why did i not stay in portuguese school! but of course i agree because this is a once in a life time chance...anxiety or not.

after i agreed to visit them my dad mailed them a "letter" (that alone kills me) to let them know we are indeed coming on may 6th and would like to visit them.  my aunts never married, they live in the home that my father grew up in and are currently 76 and 82 years old...again they speak not a WORD of english!

about two weeks before we leave i start to really panic, all i could think about is how awkward the visit would be....i would sit there and all we would here is "crickets" because they wouldn't understand "my version of portuguese" .  oh god, was this a bad idea or what...suck it up dina, you will be fine....as friends said love and family needs no translation!

to be proactive, i google different words and commonly used sentences in portuguese...fawk...i can't back out, right?, the letter wouldn't make it in time!  omg, how could i be so fearful, this is not how i normally behave but it's the dreaded fear of the unknown.  I usually thrive on adrenaline, it makes me feel alive...it tells me that something new, something exciting is going on but THIS feels out of my control or comfort zone. ok, ok.... if i can speak to my parents and i understand it all,  i'll be fine (as i bite my nails off)?

our first day in S M, the visit is happening tomorrow...i was instructed to call my aunts apon my arrival. i dial.

it doesn't go well...lol.  i hang up, tell greg how badly i didn't understand her and that i'm pretty sure i told her that i just arrived, going to the toilet? (what was i thinking) then hitting up the bid portuguese festival happening that night.  or at least that is what i think i told her. greg laughs, "it will be fine dina" he says.  i don't believe him.

that night was one of mixed emotions. feeling the weight of stepping were my parents stepped 45 years ago, hearing "my" first language spoken by all, attending the festival... all of which was amazing.  so we finally sit down to eat after walking around. there were numerous food tents set up with FANTASTIC smelling native food being whipped up.  greg finds chicken, he is pleased! i tried asking if they cooked fish at their tent, he turns his head sideways in confusion and not understanding a word of what I'm saying ....well i can't lie, the "stress" of the pending visit took it's toll.  i feel the pricks from behind my eye's and i can't stop them...tears.  greg is confused?  "your crying because they don't have fish"?  LOL...NO! "i'm crying because i don't get how i totally "understand" what people are saying but i can't seam to speak it back properly... tomorrow's visit is going to be brutal"

the next few hours were spent pulling my sh** together, drinking and sorting through the communication and finally feeling comfortable speaking.  then the drinking finally took it's toll, i needed to pee and the only option an outhouse!  for all of you who know me...i don't do outhouses, i squat over toilets and i pee in bushes to avoid them!  i'm desperate.  i have to go, so i enter this smelly beast... it's dark and the toilet is tall.  i squat!  end result, i peed down my jeans from missing the hole.  yep, i sure did. my only saving grace...i had a jacket to tie around my waste and it was raining out!  greg was howling.  the night comes to an abrupt end.

the day has arrived for our visit, greg is driving...that alone is making me want to crap my pants but we arrive in my dad's old village right beside ponta garca, we have the address and we are good to go!  one problem, my dad wrote down the wrong street name.  we reize this after an hour of asking numerous people if they know where my aunts house was...nope.  finally on a suspicion we try a road that's similar, find the number and i go knocking... this little old lady opens the door and says "deenna"? i respond with "titia"?

what happened next, was four hours i will never, ever forget.   i personally thought this visit would be the ancor the weighed down the trip (something you had to do) but was in fact the highlight!  these two amazing ladies (thank sweet jesus) understood me and i understood them, were beyond kind.  it really starts to sink in, this is truly amazing.  i quickly get right into documentation mode ...the camera doesn't leave my side (i'm lucky they are totally ok with me going buck wild with pictures of their home).    i get a tour of the house, i get to see the bed that my dad slept in as a child (jen o would have loved this vintage red cast iron number), the halls, the garden and the kitchen my dad ate in.   the house is bigger than i thought it would be and it's so beautiful.  my aunts tell me about life in portugal and we chat about what there growing in their garden (feels like being at my parents place).  i'm beaming from ear to ear, this is so surreal.

the cousin's soon arrived and their all pleased i can speak portuguese! after some food and conversation they are now adamant that we go to their homes for a visit as well....how can greg and i say no!

we say are goodbyes to my aunts with kiss's and tight hugs...we leave with some beautiful handmade gifts from two darling women and we are off.  the pricks begin again, this has been an emotional day!

the next leg of our tour begans with showing me which house my mom lived in, than they show me their own homes and too eat MORE food and drink MORE beer!  we chatted and laughed, they were mad we didn't stay at their home while we stayed on the island.  the time flew by and we really had to leave.  more hugs and kiss's and we were off.

the moral of this story is fear of the unknown is what our mind makes up, it's not our reality.  this trip has really changed me, changed my opinions, outlooks and hopefully some behaviours (like to drink less beer or perhaps to just sit on the dirty porta potty seat instead of squatting...small things first, right!)

to read part three our portugal trip click here