Aug 25, 2012

Sintra, Portugal: "O mundo gira" - The second chances we get in life and travel

I spent a weekend in Sintra at the start of my time in Lisboa, Portugal. Its a popular day trip destination featuring Castles, Palaces and greenery. My time was quite solitary, Sintra's lone hostel had only one other guest whom I met the morning she was leaving. She was a free spirit New Yorker, a mature lady passionate about Contact improv. In our brief time spent she introduced me to some new concepts that I would unexpectedly later explore. She mentioned dating a Freegan 20 years her junior and how she befriended someone on the streets of Lisboa who took her to an Underground Restaurant.

I was drawn to her zest for life, her curiosity and compulsiveness. As I was accompanying her to the train station she spotted an attractive silver-haired guy in a ponytail, she brought it to my attention several minutes later and convinced herself to approach him. I happily accompanied her as we detoured searching for him to no avail.

I admire people who act on their whims, trusting the feeling and going on instinct. Its like being a kid again, oblivious to risk and the notion of making a fool of yourself. The moment is the opportunity. Whilst I'm drawn to this idea, I also realise there are times when its best not to force the issue. Having faith that the universe will return your boomerang.

A Brazilian in Venezia gave me my first Portugese expression - "O mundo gira" (The world spins). He explained that life has its cycles, we unwittingly repeat journeys or mistakes our parents made before us. How sometimes things come back and second chances are possible. A German in Tartu offered an interesting take on that principle in regard to relationships - "I believe you meet everyone twice but you don't always know it". Its a hopeful way of looking at the world and its possibilities and speaks to a connectedness. I've talked previously about my moments of synchronicity so I've tasted the feeling but I'm keenly aware how easily its forgotten.

Walking around Sintra I spotted this facade for an abandoned building on the outskirts of the town centre. I fantasized about exploring it but wasn't as compelled to without a Partner-in-Climb.
"How the hell could you front on me"
I befriended an American Vagabond at my new hostel upon my return to Lisboa. We would later roadtrip North for a week with another running mate. The American had been Urban Camping and though I had found creative ways to save on accommodation I'd yet to spent a full night outside.

Our first stop outside of Lisboa was a return trip to Sintra. After our first outdoor dinner we began scouting for sleeping locations. Our first spot was in public parklands, we decided against it due to the likelihood of being disturbed by a ranger. Our second find involved scaling a wall and some thick bush. We cased the garden and found it sufficient though we were spooked by the discovery of belongings and the decaying passport of a German woman, the likely victim of a pickpocket. We set up camp and called it a night.

The following morning we began exploring our "backyard". Obscured by darkness, the sight was nothing like I had imagined. We were in the garden of a spectacular abandoned mansion, I felt assured we were alone. It was an intriguing space but I didn't venture too much as the ground looked shaky.

Scouting base camp from the wall

It made for a fun first outing in what would be a streak of interesting outdoor sleeps around Portugal. It only dawned on me several hours later that our backyard was the other side of the facade I had admired weeks ago. It only became apparent approaching the building from its side after a day spent hiking in the hills.

The ending becomes obvious once you know it
Read more about Second Chances here:
- My own Underground Restaurant experience and revisiting the hostel for a meal
- Meeting some punk rock kids, then the Encore
- Counting the Serendipities
- Accepting an invitation for Porto
- Ego tripping with an American Vagabond. The sequel in England
- Ego tripping with a Slovakian Adventurer in Saaremaa, Estonia

Have you ever got a second chance while traveling? Do you have any urban camping stories?

No comments:

Post a Comment