Has anyone else thought of living abroad? Well, it occurs to me from time to time, and one year, I committed to doing it! Portugal: a safe, reasonable place to relocate with lots of shoreline and the spectacular west coast sunsets would be a most ideal choice. So, off I went to research the best place in Portugal to live. I set off from Lisbon with a rental car and a map, heading south to explore all the small villages along the coast. It was February, chilly with absolutely no tourists and locals speaking little English. I drove up and down every dirt road that lead to the ocean and stumbled upon Villa Nova de Milfontes. This nearly vacant town sat at the mouth of the river that flowed into the sea—lots of beach to walk, rocks to climb, and a bus that took you to Lisbon, along with many hidden (and closed) restaurants. I loved the morning markets and so wanted to set up my little nest in a far off land where I could spend my days in quiet reflection, reading and painting. This is what Villa Nova de Milfontes was like in February—it was another scene altogether in June (I’ll save that for another storytelling blog).
Two weeks later, I returned to Lisbon to prepare my trip home with maps, brochures, business cards, pictures and a journal describing my adventures. My parents had friends in Lisbon, and we agreed to have dinner on my last night. Feeling generous and wanting to unload my last lira (this was before the euro), I treated them to dinner. It was a lovely evening. The next morning, I arrived at the airport, checked my bags, and meandered through the shops waiting for my flight. Eventually, I landed in the seating area that I thought (though I was mistaken) was my departure gate.
Was I innocent, naïve, oblivious, clueless, or just in la-la land? In any case, I missed my flight. My luggage was gone, my lira was spent, the next flight was in three days, and there I was dressed to the nines (in those days you dressed up to fly internationally)—I was stuck.
Lesson: Pay attention to your flights, gate number, and watch for any last minute changes. Note to self—it is a bad sign if you are sitting alone at the gate!