It seems that people in the US continue to show more and more epic levels of stupidity. (Thanks, Jordan Keppler. Or not, it is horrifying to watch.) Meanwhile, here in Portugal, we have just celebrated the feasts of the popular saints. St. Anthony in Lisbon and St. John here in Porto.
When we first arrived, I had heard many stories about São João and the attendant epic party that overtook the city to celebrate it. I couldn´t wait to experience it, grilled sardines, fireworks, and just an epic good time to be had by all. Back in 2019, we had to be in another city on that day, so we missed it. And then the party was canceled due to the pandemic.
Enter 2022, and the party is on! And here is where the New World Order comes in. (Besides even more stupidity in the US with rampant idiocracy). Since Covid, I don´t want anything to do with people. Much less hordes of people in a packed environment. Can you say super spreader?
So, we stayed home, ate sardine salad, and had an excellent Douro wine to celebrate instead. We watched local fireworks from our balconies and saw our neighbors launch Chinese lantern balloons. It was quiet and enjoyable. And we avoided all the potential diseases we would have been exposed to due to proximity to huge numbers of people. Sad but true, my days of attending any event with lots of people are over.
And in 2019, had we been in Porto, I would not have thought twice about joining the throngs to celebrate the day of São João. A lot has changed since then. Sadly. I guess I am lucky to be older because I would rather stay at home now anyway.
The US specializes in urban jungles. LA, New York, and Chicago all personify types of urban jungles. They all have areas that are asphalt jungles. Full of hard surfaces and danger. Los Angeles, especially since they concreted over most of the city in the first half of the 20th century. All three specialize in plenty of urban violence, which is epidemic throughout the states.
Here in Portugal, we have entirely different types of urban jungle. There are oases of greenery everywhere if you know where to look. And then there is the wildlife. Avian wildlife predominates. Followed closely by cats and dogs coming in a distant third. (We are talking urban wildlife here. The number one spot, of course, goes to the humans. Far and away the most dangerous of the lot!)
I have mentioned the Atlantic seagulls before. They really are kings of the coasts. As near as I can tell, man is their only predator. The Portuguese Atlantic gulls can be vicious pigeon killers. It is actually pretty scary to witness. And with so many pigeons, the gulls will never go hungry. I wonder if pigeons are a delicacy to them since they mostly eat fish. It is pretty horrifying to hear the screams of the city rats when the seagulls go after them. I have seen them feed their chicks with fresh rock dove meat. Yum. It gives one new respect for the seagoing warrior gulls. And the screaming of the sea pterodactyls is near-constant in the cities near the coast.
On a lighter note, we have what seems like a flock of parrots in the neighborhood. They fly by so quickly, it is hard to tell if that is what they are. Given their screeching and small green bodies, we guess they must be renegade parrots. Songbirds are very popular as pets here and, you know they must escape from time to time.
When it comes to screeching, there is nothing like a peacock. The peafowl really makes the most Jurassic park sounding noise. Several parks have them in abundance and, they tool around like house pets in various parts of town. It is entertaining to see.
We hear about the shootings du jour in the US, and we think, wow, it just seems to keep getting worse in the not-so United States. We are happy to have traded the concrete jungle for a peaceful urban oasis.
Visão is considered to be the Portuguese Time magazine. They say that it is the most read news magazine in the country. I was lucky enough to be chosen as part of an article on ex-pat Americans living in Portugal. This month’s cover story is titled, The Portuguese dream that attracts the Americans. The sub heading is The stories of those who have left the American dream behind to move to Portugal because of the quality of life, property investments, the wines and to escape Trump. Resident permits for US citizens have almost doubled, and golden visas have multiplied six times.
I have translated the article and share it with you here.
Lisa Graziano, wine specialist, and teacher. From Denver. Before moving to Porto, Lisa Graziano thought about moving to Valencia, Spain. However, when she visited Portugal, she discovered that the country had a more stable government, friendlier people, and a lower cost of living. Besides this, the North American had for years had a passion for Portuguese wines. In the Invicta (Porto), she learned a new way of being. “We were used to doing everything right now, but now we have learned to be calm.” (To live more calmly.)
The attraction of the Douro. “The USA is a bagunça,” (mess) says Lisa Graziano, mixing English and Portuguese in the eagerness of justifying the move to Portugal. “The election of Trump was terrible. If people thought it was a good idea this man should be president, I had to go”. The only thing left was to decide where to go. Years earlier, she had come across Portugal at a wine tasting in Denver, the capital of Colorado, where she lived for more than two decades. She worked in a wine shop and was used to trying the best vintages. But she was impressed by the quality of the national wines (Portuguese), especially the whites.
“One of the reasons for leaving Denver was the extreme heat that was becoming more and more common. “This is why we decided to live in Porto because it is cooler,” she says happily. The family, and their dog, moved to the Invicta (The unconquered, Porto is known as the unconquered city, a cidade invicta.) two years ago. But it was during the pandemic that they purchased a T3 (three-bedroom) apartment in Cedofeita. (A neighborhood in central Porto.) Lisa gives lessons in English to Italians online, and her husband is a graphic designer for a company in the US.
The North American feels very much that “the United States is not a country for older people.” To start with, “the health system is a joke,” she says. “We are close to retirement age, and we have access to the national health system that costs a small fraction of the cost in the US and has much better quality. That is important to us,” she admits. Besides social protection, safety has been surrendered in the country. “The US is no longer a safe place. There is always a shooting du jour, and we did not feel safe,” she laments. “Those who live in the US think that everything is better there, but that is a lie. It is a good illusion when you cannot leave, but here (in Portugal), everything is much better,” she believes.
Lisa would like to become a type of ambassador for Portuguese wines, and for this reason, she is writing a book. She has the objective of visiting all of the wine regions in the country. The Douro was the first region that she got to know, “one of the most beautiful in the world.” Also, the adventures told in the blog The Road to Portugal, about the move to and life here in Portugal will be published. What’s more, that digital showcase has already given origin to various contacts from north Americans asking for more information about the country.
Although now, “there is an adult as president,” the couple does not plan to return to the USA.” For this reason, the response to the question about how long do you think you will live in Portugal is unequivocal, “Forever.”
Covid rides again, virulent, bolder, and faster than before. Here in Portugal, the new lockdown has people pissed off. There have been some protests in Lisbon, but happily, all have been peaceful.
And, the government is pissed as well. People have been becoming lax about the rules, and those in charge have taken notice. So, you really can’t blame the powers that be for instituting more stringent rules and penalties for noncompliance. When the new lockdown went into effect, we noticed folks hanging out outside some cafés on our way to the grocery store. I have also seen a lot of people out and about maskless lately. I get it, everyone is suffering from lockdown fatigue. There was an image on IG in Portuguese that summed it up, be patient, or be a patient! A good reason to mind the basic rules: wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands!
And, to some extent, it is our own damn fault. Had to get together and go places for the holidays. This was abusing the privilege of being stupid. And here we are. Not only has the vaccine rollout been fraught with problems, but now people are refusing to be vaccinated. People are afraid of something developed so quickly for something we don’t even know that much about. The pandemic problems seem endless. We can only hope that the world will get it together sooner rather than later.
At least, we are here, in Portugal. Not only do you have the pandemic, but the disintegration of democracy before our eyes in the US. Never have we seen the level of stupidity that we are witnessing. Between the political madness and the lack of common sense regarding fighting the virus, it is staggering. Idiocracy is happening! When I first saw the movie, I thought it was funny and a little absurd. Now it is a horror movie depicting where the US is headed. Unbelievable, but true.
Again, we are thankful to have left the states. However, it is still horrifying to watch. It certainly feels safer regarding events from afar. The old world seems ever so much more civilized these days.
We interrupt this usually informative and fun-loving blog for a rant post.
Holy mother of insanity. You can’t make this stuff up. It pushes the bounds of credibility. A delusional narcissist, hate monger becomes pres of the US and very nearly overthrows the government as we know it.
Here’s the thing, the decline of the empire has been happening for a long time.
Even before the dump show, most of the systems in the country were showing signs of malfunction. And that is putting it mildly. Health insurance is a prohibitively expensive joke. Health providers, oblivious drug peddlers. Insurance, in general, a scam. The legal system, the absurdly random application of the “law.” And people get away with murder every day. The food supply has become so adulterated that it has lost nutritional value and flavor. Even if people woke up enough to take action, it is unlikely that there could be a noticeable improvement in my lifetime.
We survived the holidays that weren’t, in the year that wasn’t due to the pandemic, only to witness hoodlums storming the US capitol while being egged on by a president who is unfit for office. And he has pulled off his chicanery for years without penalty. The country has become a brainless, spineless laughing stock the world over. When I was growing up, we considered the US to be the greatest country in the world. The T-word vowed to make America great again. Instead, he made it his dump-land of hate, greed, and stupidity. From a first world country to a third world mess in four years. Pretty impressive for someone as mentally unstable as he.
It is sad when the people in power are only concerned with grabbing power instead of being the public servants that they should be. Biden and company certainly have their work cut out for them. Best of luck to them. They will need it.
As for us, thank God we got out when we did. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. How about a glass of wine? Or, maybe something stronger. Good old American whiskey seems fitting. Make that 100 proof.