Relieved to say that I had a far more energetic and productive day yesterday. I managed a gentle workout, did some work, and planned next weekend’s trip north to Porto, all without taking a nap. I even managed to stay up past 10 PM. Wow. Improvement indeed.

I woke early this morning, feeling energized and much better, the cold having retreated to a vague stuffiness in my head and chest. Thank God. Really glad this one went quickly and normally, unlike the last one, which somehow got worse instead of better.

We went out for a walk last night before dinner, which was rendered short and brisk due to the unseasonably cold wind that’s been blowing hard for the past few days. I actually wore my puffy vest, which I’d thought I’d dispensed with weeks ago! Sigh. Will it ever get warm? (Famous last words…!)

No matter how short though, our walk reminded me of just how varied and fascinating this town can be. I swear I could live here for ten years and never know all its nuances and side streets, nooks and crannies, houses and outhouses.

A friend recommended a Cabo Verdean restaurant and club he knew of in our area, which in fact turned out to be just around the corner from us. Theoretically anyway. Due to the complicated nature of the streets here, it’s taken me days of sleuthing to figure out where said club actually is.

I knew I’d seen a sign with the name of the street (or in this case, travessa, or alley) near our house. But when I first looked, all I could see was a set of stairs, with houses being remodeled on either side and a tiny corner bar at the top. So I said no, I don’t think it’s there any more.

When assured that it was, I looked harder. I discovered that in fact the travessa only began with that set of stairs — only here would a street include a staircase! — then joined our own street and continued off to the left and down another set of stairs. All of which is the same travessa. I had always assumed that part of the street was in fact still our own, but no, apparently a slight jog to the left is enough to indicate the change in street names.

Even knowing the street though, I still couldn’t figure out which house it was, as the numbering system here is very strange. Odds are usually on one side and evens on the other, but they bear absolutely no correlation to each other, so number 37 could be blocks away from number 36. And even then, one building can have two or even three numbers associated with it, as ours does. It’s a wonder anyone ever finds anything here — I certainly feel sorry for the postman!

Finally, last night we set out to solve the mystery once and for all. We followed the numbers up and down both staircases until at last we found the one we were looking for. At first I thought we were still wrong, because the door with the correct number was a huge bright blue wrought iron thing set into a concrete wall, the whole of it covered in graffiti. You couldn’t even see in past the door, as the gaps in the ironwork were blocked by cardboard stuck to the back of it. I took one look and said, “Nope, this is an abandoned building, there’s nothing here.”

It wasn’t till we stepped back and looked up that we discovered we actually were in the right place: on a terrace far above the door, there was a long canvas awning with the name of the restaurant emblazoned on it. I would have kicked myself for not seeing it much sooner, except that said awning was about 25 feet above street level, set well back behind the imposing graffiti-scrawled concrete wall. In other words, there was no way we would’ve spotted it without knowing it was there, even despite having walked down that street hundreds of times since we moved here. Guess they’re not big on walk-in traffic?

Even so, I can’t believe there’s been this great restaurant literally half a block away from us this whole time, and we’ve never been. Dangit! But now I’m really looking forward to getting better so we can go check it out. I’ve been wanting to hear some music from the former Portuguese colonies, in part because I’m curious as to how it compares to what I heard in Cuba. Now it seems like I have no excuses any more — even if it starts very late, which it undoubtably will, it’s not like it’ll take us long to get home!

As an added bonus to our new neighborhood discovery, we also found a brand new restaurant in the tiny corner cafe at the top of the travessa staircase. When Gabe poked his head in to ask if they knew where there was a Cabo Verdean restaurant nearby, they said they didn’t know, as they had just opened the day before. But they assured us that we were welcome to come by and eat any time.

The place looked lovely, with two tiny tables tucked in to the space next to the bar (I assume there were more downstairs), with bright red accent walls, cheerful pots of gerbera daisies, and jars of red peppers to match. The placard announcing their name at the front was also red and stylishly designed. All of this conspired to make me eager to come back and eat there — what can I say, I’m a sucker for good design. And all things red.

The rest of our walk turned up nothing new or groundshaking, which was a relief, as two new restaurants on our block was quite enough. Along with the two great wine bars just down the street and those at the mirador up the hill, why would we ever go elsewhere? (And indeed, we don’t.)

It all goes to prove why I love living in a city, for a short time anyway, and why I love living in this city in particular. Where else could finding a recommended restaurant turn into a scavenger hunt spanning multiple days’ searching… and then have it turn out to be right on your doorstep?

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