Yesterday was a good combination of responsibility and fun, exploring and taking care of business. We went out in the early afternoon to check out our neighborhood, and perhaps to find a grocery store or at least a fruteria closer to home.

We didn’t find either of those, but we did find both a local craft market in the nearby praca and a farmer’s market further up the hill. We also found not one but two gyms, or rather a swimming pool complex and a Portuguese version of the YMCA. The swimming pool was a bit too far away from home, and the YMCA a bit too muscle-bound and run down for my tastes, but they’ll do in a pinch. At least I have options if I ever decide that the Portuguese hills aren’t giving me enough exercise!

Since I hadn’t slept well the night before, we came home in the mid-afternoon for Gabe to have lunch and me a siesta — and really, just because we could! The dorm we were staying in really wasn’t big enough for daytime relaxing, even without the cleaning ladies bustling through the building all day. So while we were staying there, we felt the need to stay out as long as possible every day, but now — no more. It was a relief to have the option of going home.

Later in the afternoon, we set out again to do a bigger grocery shop than I was capable of carrying by myself the day before. However, between one thing and another, we never actually managed to reach the grocery store. On our way home earlier that day, we’d seen some signs advertising free music in three of the local pracas, so we thought we’d just stop by on our way back out to see what was going on.

The first such concert was a high school band playing rousing music at the miradoure on the hill above our flat. Since it was close to sunset, of course we couldn’t just let such a perfect moment rush on by, so a drink overlooking the city and listening to the kids play their hearts out was definitely in order.

Much fortified, we continued on our way to the grocery store, with the intention of stopping by the convent we’d seen the other day to check out another concert. We walked in and found a full choir practicing for their performance, which started in twenty minutes’ time. Again, we couldn’t just walk away from such a magical opportunity simply for the sake of grocery shopping!

So we stayed, and it was heavenly. Families, children, and tourists swirled around us as we sat on the marble steps of the convent, and the music floated up through the ruined roof towards the pink-dusted clouds above. What a perfect moment.

Reluctantly, we cut short the choral experience and returned home to get ready for the regularly scheduled portion of our evening’s entertainment: dinner with a couple Gabe met at the synagogue last week. We had arranged to meet at a very trendy restaurant at 9 PM, so it was clearly going to be a Night Out. And so it was — along with a very hip crowd of Lisboeta fashionistas, we ate, laughed, talked, and drank great wine without any awareness of time passing, which is always a relief when spending time with new people. Finally someone called for the check, and I realized with a start that it was midnight — the latest I’d been out in quite some time. Much to my amusement, an entire party of people had just sat down to begin their meal when we left (although I think it was just coffee and dessert)

Clearly, our schedules, priorities, and daily lives are already shifting to fit the Portuguese lifestyle. Even grocery shopping is a whole new experience here — usually if I put off grocery shopping at home, it’s because I’m too tired or busy, and not due to getting sidetracked by free sunset concerts in gorgeous, ancient locations. There is a languid fluidity to time and obligations here that is both enchanting and occasionally infuriating, depending on the occasion. Getting lost in a good dinner is one thing, but not being able to buy furnishings for three days due to a state holiday (one of fourteen they celebrate here!) is quite another. So my nesting instinct must wait for another two days, but somehow, between stumbling across beautiful music in stunning locations and eating good food with new friends, that is quite all right with me.

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