Big Shot in Portugal

My Friends,
   I am in a shitty little internets cafe in Lisbon right now.  I have been in Portugal for just under 48 hours but it seems like longer.  Certainly the tempo of my trip has been high and I have covered a lot of ground.  I started in Porto in the NW of the country.  After my couchsurfing contact failed to meet me at the designated spot I figured I was on my own and walked through the city, eventually working my way south of the Douro River to Vila Nova de Gaia, the location of all of Porto´s Port Wine cellars.  Crossing the bridge into that land of milk and honey, I truly felt as if I had reached the promised land.

All of those warehouses stacked haphazardly in the mountain are dispensaries of fine Port wine…fucks yeah
I went to the Quinta de Noval cellar, purchased a bottle and crushed about half of it on the patio whils leisurely watching the day pass by.  But as nightfall approached I realized that facedown drunk in a gutter was not how I wanted to spend my evening.  So I hopped a bus to Valadares (sic) beach thinking Id camp in some dunes but on the bus a girl overheard my difficulty talking to the bus driver and started asking me about my travels.  I was pretty silly of the wine so I dont remember how the convo went but I was invited to meet with her and her boyfriend for coffee.  They were an interesting and well-travelled couple and gave me lots of advice on places to go but unfortunately they couldnºt offer me a couch to crash on to replace the one I had missed out on.  When we parted ways it was dark and though I had intended to go to the beach and sleep I had inexplicable energy and decided to wak along the beach to the lights in the distance, which it turned out, were the lights of Espinho.
   I dont know exactly how far I walked; about as far as you can walk in three hours I guess. When I finally got to the Espinho promenade it was around midnight and there were still some people out. But as I continued it didnt occur to me that the areas was getting less tourism friendly and more ghetto every block.  Around the same time I thought to myself  “hey this kind of looks like a low-income area where violent crimes would be wont to take place,” I rounded a corner and came into view of a group of ruffians smoking some shit.  They started advancing toward me tentatively and asking me to come over and smoke some hash with them.  I politely refused their offer while walking as fast as my fucking legs could take me.  Luckily trhey relented.  But it occurred to me that the knife I had strapped to my leg would avail me little in a altercation with six dudes when I was encumbered by a pack.  In fact, I was lucky they hadnt seen it or else they might have been provoked.  I resolved that from then on I wouldn´t wear it anymore at night to deter potential accosters, as it would likely bring more attention and therefore more menace.
   I ended up backtracking to the casino after some Portuguese Bag Lady gave me directions to the main road to Lisbon but decided that the day had been long enough.  I got back to the sand dunes I had traversed earlier and set up camp 4am … about an hour later it started raining.
   I spent my second day walking the long road from Espinho to Aveiro (the Venice of Portugal).  My attempts at hitchiking had been abortive and with a blister developing on my right heel after walking the better part of two days I was starting to despair.  But I kept my thumb out whilst hobbling forward and hoped for the best.  After three hours people driving by me (its funny when you hitchhike, , some people look away from you, some veer away from you, some veer toward you as a joke and others just throw up their hands as if to say “I wish I could help my dude, but go fuck yourself instead”) I was fionally picked up by Wilson, a student on his way to class and coincidentally a Portuguese counterpart in the army reserves.  Originally he said he would take me a couple of miles further south cause he had to get to class.but as we got to talking he he realized that he´d rather bang wit a real OG such as myself than spend a friday afternoon in a classroom.  So he drove me all the way to Aveiro, stopped at the now-abandoned soccer futebol stadium built for the Euro Cup a few years back
It could be yours for only 16,000,000 Euros
bought me dinner, showed me around the city, found me some internets, tried to hook me up with friends in Lisbon, bought me a bottle of wine and was generally a standup guy. 
Me and Wilson with my regimental flag with Aveiro canals and gondolas in the background
I am ashamed to admit that the whole time I was thinking this guy is trying to hustle me somehow, but he said only that its how he would want to be treated if he was a “walker” (hitchhiker) and that to pay him back I could return the favour when he visits Canada. He was a good dude and when he drove me to train station later so I could catch the train to Lisbon my biggest problem was bewing further encumbered by a map of Portugal he gave me and a second bottle of wine (I still had the Port from the previous night).  But don´t worry, I solved the problem of these two bottles on the train ride to Lisbon. 
  I am in Lisbon now, it s a beatiful city with crazy architecture and narrow, curvy alleys.  It is a relic of a time before zoning laws, when immediate necessity was the dominant guideline fo what was built and how it was built.  I wandered around the better part of the night, talking to people, meeting people in bars, looking for a place to camp out and generally getting over the fear I had had about the criminal element in the city (Wilson had warned me it was dangerous).  The problem of sleeping was a difficlut one and it made me acutely aware one of the trials of being homeless: you want to camp out of sight of police so they cant wake you up and tell you to move on, but also within earshot so that they can hear you if you get attacked.  After searching in vain for most of the night I settled on an alley with parked cars blocking me from view.  I think I may have slept an hour on the hard ground at most but with no foam mat (I left most of my gear at the locker in the station and only had a blanket and pillow in my napsack) I woke up shivering at 7am and figured “fuck it, might as well see the city in the daytime.  So I think I am at a grand total of three hours of sleep for the past three days: couldnt sleep on the plane the first night, got rained on the second night and woke up freezing last night.  Surprisingly I am wide awake though (the espresso here is killer).  My plan for today is to head to the airport in a few hours and haggle a cheap flight to Madeira where it should be a little more rural and therefore a little more conducive to camping.  Thanks if you read this far and next time I will endeavcour to be a little less verbose.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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