Friday, May 14, 2010

The Pope is Coming - Part 1

The entire city shut down for the Pope this morning so I went to check it out. All this action takes place right down the street from our new apartment.

The Pope is Coming - Part 2

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bad Hair day

So in my attempt to find normal, I decided I would get my haircut. I needed it, it was getting out of control big and the wind around here doesn’t help much. I should have gotten a cut before I left NY but, things were too hectic, and while I did think I could manage a bit longer, I should have.
From the beginning I thought I would get my haircut on visits to London, as I had yet to see any good hair styles on my previous visits to Porto. But mostly because I thought how cool would it be to say yeah, I get my haircut in London, or when I go back to New York. I mean- that is pretty freakin’ cool right? Obviously cool does not always equal practical (it rarely does) and so a Portuguese haircut was inevitable.

I was happy to find out that Gabriella, my friend here goes to a Salon run by a friend of hers who trained in London. For some reason, this made me comfortable. Throughout the week I kept asking about making an appointment and it seems that they don’t do appointments here in Portugal. Everyone just goes to the Salon, you anticipate waiting around and chatting with other women, until you can get seen. And so the two of us went to her friends to get our haircut. The salon was packed, tons of women getting their washed, cut, styled, and others patiently waiting their turn. Eventually I was up, it all happened so quickly, I was taken to the wash station, my hair was quickly dowsed, shampooed, conditioned and then I was ushered over to a chair, for the haircut. I decided I would also get my nails done, and so while in the chair, another women came over and got to work on my nails. Then the women who cut my hair came over and asked what I wanted done. Panic struck me.
Wait. What I want done? My hair is soaking wet, how can anyone cut my hair without having looked at it dry? If I tell you my hair is thick and big, and wavy and particularly full of body at the top you will not see this. Because right now my hair is wet! My hair is wet, and straight and stringy and in no way does it show the volume that I both loathe and love, the waves that curl up around the sides of my face, but fall flat in the back, but mostly you can not see the massive pouf of hair that sits right at the top of my head. All of this runs through my mind and I say
“umm…. Just trim it a bit”

The trimming occurs in record time, and I think, maybe I am wrong, maybe this woman is like Edward Scissorhands, and in I will walkout with a magnificently modern coif. My hair did come out looking pretty good, but I still wonder how anyone would cut someone’s hair without a discussion of said hair, while looking at the hair dry. I told my friend this and she told me a consultation is expensive. Consultation? No this is just a normal chitchat with your hair dry. Apparently this is not normal here. Gabriella told her friend that I wanted to talk about my hair before it was cut and then jokingly I was asked if they talked to me enough about my hair. No, no you did not. I guess a haircut in London isn’t too far off in my future after all.

That’s so Puerto Rican!

Most folks in Portugal don’t know too much about Puerto Rico. Honestly most folks in the States don’t know too much about Puerto Rico (unless you are in NY or Florida). I completely understand the confusion. Are we a state? Or are we not a State? – We are neither? So you’re an immigrant? No, it’s a commonwealth- which is essentially a colony but who wants to use those types of ugly words nowadays. But they speak Spanish? Yes they speak Spanish, but in most schools they also learn English. Can they vote? Not for president, but they do have a representative in DC who does not get to vote either. The list goes on and so do the stereotypes, all of which, I find amusing, disheartening, and in some cases totally true.

Recently one of my co-workers said to me,
“Oh, one of your islands most well known exports announced he was gay!”
“Yes. I know, he didn’t really need to announce it, I think most folks assumed it, aside from his years of denial.”
But wait? Did you say my islands most well known exports? Really? Really? This is what the little island of PR is known for, good god, how do I manage to move beyond that.

I soon found out I had other infamous exports to contend with and Ricky Martin, is the least of my worries.

“Jim” came into my office to announce that the only thing he knew of Puerto Rico was Iris Chacon. What? Who? I have no idea who this is. He informs me that she is famous, was on Letterman, and she is like the Shakira of Puerto Rico! I wonder, how do I not know who the Puerto Rican Shakira is? He bounces over to my desk, and quickly gets on Youtube. Iris Chacon. Iris Chacon, is not so much Shakira like, as she is an 80’s Carmen Miranda train wreck. I love it, and as I watched the video, I told Jim- “yeah, yeah, that pretty much sums up Puerto Rican women. I also walk around in bright red lipstick and stilettos.

Rainbow manicure?

I know I was spoiled in NY, a nail salon on every other corner. I used to do manicures and Manhattan’s at the nail salon in Boreum Hill. I would come home, a little buzzed with perfectly done toes and tips. When I was broke I would go to the other place around the corner, where I would quickly and cheaply get clipped, polished and sent out the door feeling a little rushed but looking fantastic. I should have known; nothing good could come of a salon visit where I did not see Korean women working away like mad. But then again, I have yet to see any Korean women here, and I am a little concerned about who is going to alter my clothes.

A few weeks back, while Maggie was visiting we decided we would get our nails done, I was in desperate need of a pedicure and her nails were chipping. There was some pre-salon visit research, I found a salon and we headed out. We arrived with out an appointment, but ready to wait. After a confusing dialog that included pointing at fingers, toes, and a basket of nail polish we got ushered into a small room, for massages. Apparently the girl who does pedicures is out on Saturday but we could get our nails done. Out came a cart full of the necessary nail paraphernalia. It wasn’t the set up we were used to but, it will work. Then the basket with polish is placed in front of us and we are encouraged to choose a color. We start digging through, browns, dark reds, lime green, hot pink, pale pinks the usual suspects, but they all seemed a bit off. As most women know the color is important, it has to match your skin tone, yes, but also your personality, your sense of style, it has to match with you- and all that encompasses. In our attempt to pick a color we painted some nails, multiple colors, wiped some off, and settled on one that was just ok. While waiting for the woman to paint our nails we discussed the failure of this salon, and in a flash decided we didn’t want to get this polish, by this woman, in this room, on our nails. We quickly packed up, said a few desculpas (I am sorry) and obrigada’s (thank you) and rushed out. Giggling as we fled, in search of a new salon, and preferably one that also did pedicures. We went to three other salon’s they all failed in the pedicure department. It seems Tuesday is a better Pedicure day. After so many futile attempts, we decided we would get one at the last salon and they seemed happy to oblige. We entered and started looking through the nail polish, painting a few more nails to decide on the color when an employee came over and took the polish basket away from us!

“No! No!” she said.

After being ignored for a few more minutes, we left yet another salon, without a manicure. And seeing as it was not Tuesday without a pedicure as well.

Failing to launch a new trend that includes multiple colors painted on each nail, we came home and did our own nails.

They love eggs on sh*t

I was having lunch with a coworker the other day (“Pam”) and we started to discuss the breakfast situation here in Portugal. Brunch is a popular activity here, as it was in New York. Places are packed, and you may have to wait to get seated, but the main difference is they don’t actually eat breakfast type foods. Brunch here, like everything else takes an exceedingly long time. We have a running joke that anything that usually takes 1 hour will take 4 hours (like brunch) and anything that takes longer then an hour can take at least 24 hrs. (like getting a pedicure). Brunch is extra odd because all that folks eat are pastries, coffee and maybe a toasta mista (toasted ham & cheese). How can this small meal take four hours!?!?! I don’t know, but often times it does.

So I ask “Pam”, why don’t you guys eat scrambled eggs, or French toast, or pancakes? She knows what all of these things are, tells me she likes pancakes, French toast is dessert and eggs for breakfast is disgusting! What? Whoa… wait minute, eggs for breakfast grosses you out, yet as a culture you guys put eggs on everything! This makes no sense but it is what it is. Eggs are for lunch or maybe dinner. Here is a sampling of eggs on everything but your breakfast plate

There is a steak under that egg, and surrounded by those chips- another favorite food.

I have no idea what this is- it was in a display case, little eggs on little sandwiches?

Francesinha- this is the Porto sandwich. It is many layers of meat, cheese, au jus, with an egg on top and french fries swimming in the sauce.

This is from H3 the gourmet burger joint. It seems burgers are a traditional food here- just not in a bun. Hmmm....