Busy, lovely, full day yesterday. Started out relatively early by going to a yoga class (and dragging Gabe with me, miracle of miracles!)

I had no idea what to expect, given that it was taught in a different language, but in the end, the class turned out to be more of a mental exercise than a physical one. The ponytailed, spry old yogi arrived late, lit a candle, carefully laid out his copy of the Bhagavad Gita and all accompanying props… and proceeded to talk for ten minutes before actually starting class. We then did all of eight or ten poses before starting the meditation at the end of class, during which… he talked some more.

Even though he translated most of it for my benefit, I already understood the gist perfectly. Turns out the language of yoga teachers is the same the world round: centering, breathing deeply, imagine that your head is a beautiful lotus flower floating on the stem of your body, etc. But since it was in Portuguese, at least it gave me an opportunity to practice my comprehension skills, and what stretching we did felt good on muscles stretched tight by three weeks of climbing hills.

To my surprise, Gabe stayed after the class to lift weights and use the hot tub, during which time I went home to shower and eat. In other words, I was waiting for him to finish his workout! I don’t think that’s ever happened before. Talk about role reversal — and a refreshing one at that.

Given our late start and the sudden addition of an extra Portuguese lesson to my afternoon, we ended up scratching the idea of going up to the big supermarket. Instead, we ran some other errands that needed doing closer to home, including buying my grammar book for class and picking up the monitor Gabe ordered last week. The intention is mainly to have it as a second monitor for Gabe to work on at home, but with the added benefit that we can hook it up to the cable box and use it as a TV.

I have to say, I definitely have mixed feelings about the advent of TV in our flat. On the one hand, it’s incredibly nice to zone out on mindless TV after a day of concentrating all my energy on understanding what people are saying (since most of our channels are in English.) That said, I also wouldn’t have minded terribly if we’d gone the whole year without it. But the internet service we got was far cheaper as part of a package, so… TV we have. And ironically, with far more channels, features, and now a better screen than we had at home.

Go figure — we moved across the world just to watch more TV. Ha.

Yesterday’s Portuguese lesson was slightly more focused and on-topic than it had been the day before. My teacher wanted to combine my lesson with another student, as she thought we would benefit from speaking together. I was slightly embarrassed to find that her estimate of my abilities is much higher than I expected — the woman she placed me with has been living here for at least a year or two, and has already taken an intensive course in Portuguese.

However, since she is Iranian and this is her first Romance language, she’s finding it very difficult to learn, whereas my background in Spanish and French means that I will pick it up very quickly (or so my teacher says.) Nonetheless, I think the other lady was upset when she discovered that she had been placed with someone who was only on their second lesson!

I chatted with her a bit after class, and it turned out she had lived in San Jose for 15 years. Go figure — I move half way across the world, only to go to school with someone who was practically my neighbor!

In talking with her, she remarked that she often finds it very boring to live here, that there’s not enough going on compared to Tehran and the States, and that the people are not as open or intellectually curious. I was surprised by this, because so far to me this seems like such a dynamic and vibrant place, with warm, welcoming people who are always ready to chat up a storm if you only give them a chance.

I thought a lot about her opinions as I was walking home, and it occurred to me that I’ve hardly written here about how I actually feel about Lisbon. So far it’s been too much of a whirlwind to really think about! But as I thought, and walked, and looked around me, I realized: I am falling in love with this place. When she was disparaging it, I found myself getting defensive, as would someone who had lived here for a lot longer than just three weeks.

Granted, I am only planning to live here for a year or less, which is very different than moving here permanently and always comparing it to the place(s) you’ve left behind. And yes, my first reaction upon arrival was not exactly one of unrestrained joy.

But over the intervening weeks, I have come to see the beauty of the old buildings instead of just the graffiti on their walls, the marble cobblestones instead of the dog poo on the streets, and the warmth of the people instead of just their foreignness. Already I would not give up the mornings here, with their constant chorus of church bells, or the way everything is shut and silent on the weekends, or stopping by the corner store on the way home to buy fresh fruit for the next day.

Funny that it takes seeing something through someone else’s eyes to realize how you see it yourself.

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