Jared in Portugal

Ahhh, there is still life in my journey, and it’s been found in Portugal!

I have been here for the last few days, and I feel very renewed by this place. I took the night train from Madrid a few days ago. I slept for the first time in a couchette…which was quite interesting. The compartment only had four people as opposed to six, which is what I usually see. I had a top bunk, which felt quite like sleeping in a coffin. When we turned the lights off, it was pitch black…I mean, not even a dot of light coming in, and the ceiling was two feet above me….I felt very enclosed and freaked out. I think I fell asleep after a few hours of restlessness…..and I had a really weird dream, which I can’t recall. But I do recall the scary feeling of waking up from the dream in a pitch black, coffin like environment on a rumbling train. Talk about disorientation…took a minute to remember where I was. There were times when the train shook so much I felt like I would be thrown from my bunk!

I arrived in Lisbon early morning and met a bunch of people in the train station, including one of the guys in my couchette car. We all found a hostel together and ended up hanging out for the next few days in a big group, which is something I have missed for a while…so it was a welcome experience. It’s nice to have other people taking charge, and I can relax a little and just go with the flow.

We walked all around Lisbon. This is a very beautiful city, and parts of it are so old and untouched, it’s like walking back in time. Some of it is quite run down, but the people are very friendly and full of culture. Our hostel was right in the middle of the central square, and I had a balcony in my room. There was an ancient castle sitting on a hill above the city, which we decided to climb up to and check out. What a climb, but it gave us a great view of the city and the bay! There is a giant statue of Jesus here….it stands over the bay and is visible from all over the city. This is a very religious country.

The next day, we all took a trip to a town called Sintra, about an hour outside of Lisbon. It’s a small village set in the side of a mountain that sports a medieval Moorish fortress, as well as an incredible castle built more recently. We decided we wanted to climb the mountain. I don’t know if we really knew what that would entail. It was a very windy road that went for miles uphill, yet we walked it all the way to the top. We carried up food for lunch with us, and at the top we perched ourselves on the walls of the castle, overlooking the entire coast of the region, and had a picnic lunch in the presence of an amazing view.  Quite spiritual.

That evening we returned to Lisbon. One thing I’d like to mention is that I have seen many people with extreme deformities here, for instance people with no arms, but hands that stick out of their shoulders, or people with immense protrusions from their backs. It is very sad to see such things. But, yesterday I saw a man with Elephantitis. I don’t know if you have seen the movie “The Elephant Man”, but this man looked very much like that. He was sitting and begging, and when I saw him, I did a double take and had to look away, because never in my life have I laid eyes on something so hard to look at. If you think you have problems, you really don’t.

Anyway, the next day some of the group split, and the rest of us took a train down to the southwest coast of Portugal to a town called Lagos. This place is like the Greek Islands all over again. BEAUTIFUL BEACHES. The water is so clean and clear…you can see the bottom. Teaming with fish. The town is quaint and old, with all kinds of shops and restaurants. Very cheap too! I may stay here for a few days and just relax. Lawd knows I have been going strong for a long time.

My trip is almost over! Only two weeks to go! Can you believe it? I bet you feel as though I have been writing these updates forever. Yeah, me too. It will be weird to be back in NYC! Well, not quite yet, because I will be going to summer camp. But I suppose I will be back in the city by the fall. What the hell am I gonna do? I have no clue…

Any suggestions?

Write to me folks….it’s always nice.