If you know me at all you know that one of my least favorite things in the world, besides watching people chew gum with their mouth open like the girl the other day on the bus to Paris Orly who had me wondering, Does she know she’s doing this? Does she know how atrocious this is? is taking pictures. And it’s not even that I hate taking pictures, it’s more that I hate feeling like I have to take pictures. I hate when I see something beautiful and a little voice in my cerebellum screams, “Hey, bro, you should take a picture.” And then I don’t take a picture and I feel bad. I think, Oh, well, I’ll write about it. Writing is more effective anyway because if you write about it people have to imagine it. I mean, A Farewell to Arms doesn’t have a bunch of pictures. The Feminine Mystique doesn’t have a bunch of pictures. So that’s why Where’s Wetzler traditionally hasn’t had a great deal of photography.
But that all changed today as I hit the street with my trusty 35mm, aka my cellphone. The first thing I did was head to a little spot across the train tracks where earlier in the day I’d seen some fishermen gossiping about whatever it is fishermen gossip about. I would’ve paid several euros to be able to understand their conversation. They looked like they were having a great time. They looked like they’d known each other since they were fetuses, in the way only people from a small town in southern Portugal can know each other. But alas I was too far away and my Portuguese is far too rudimentary to ever understand what had them so animated.
After wandering around the town for part of the afternoon I headed back to my guesthouse where the owner had told me there was a bottle of green wine lurking in the fridge that was entirely at my disposal. He said it was good green wine. So in my head I’d made a little mental note that stayed with me all day that said, “At some point today, when the hour is appropriate, you’re going to sit down with a couple of glasses of green wine and take the edge off.” Not that I was stressed out. I don’t remember the last time I was stressed out. I think it was 7th grade when I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d made the basketball team.
I had two glasses of green wine, and then figured two was a weird number and so had a third. Then I hit the streets, which were completely deserted because of the recent rain. It hasn’t rained a lot in Portugal lately so this rain is a blessing. For me it mostly meant I had to make sure I didn’t get my shoes wet. I saw one bar that was showing soccer games and decided that the next bar that looked crowded and intimidating I would go in. I didn’t have to wait too long before I turned a corner and saw a well lit, ample bar with pool tables populated by old Portuguese men watching the Manchester United v. Watford game. I entered.
At the bar I successfully ordered a ham and cheese sandwich in Portuguese and thought about how that’s why I like these bars, because you have to try to speak the language. These guys don’t speak English. They don’t want to speak English. All they want to do is sit around around and drink Pepsi and smoke cigarettes and watch soccer. This is all they’ve done for the past 20 years, and what they’re going to do till they die. I kind of envy them.
I also kind of don’t envy them. And I couldn’t see the screen too well so after the first half I went back to my wonderful guesthouse where I lay on the bed watching English Premier League soccer and wondering aggressively how I was going to get to Spain the next day, if I in fact went. Would I hitchhike? Would I fork over the massive quantities of dough required to take buses and trains? This caused me some distress, so I went downstairs and made some mint tea. If you ever want to calm down, drink some mint tea. In fact if you want to completely turn around your life and stop being a wretched slob, I suggest you do the following: Give up coffee, and start drinking mint tea. It’s good for the brain. It’s good for the soul. And it’s good for the palate.
I decided I would try to hitchhike the next day, and resolved to get up early to do so. My time in Faro was done. I set my alarm for 7:00am and wondered if I’d actually get up. Or if when I woke up I’d think about going to sleep, how sweet it would be, and how nothing could get me up, not even mint tea.