Portugal in the Box #8

Friday 6th June 2008

Alcacer do Sal – Setubal – Palmela – Moita

One week on the road now, about 1300 kilometers, and it seems like ages! I feel a general tiredness now, perhaps because we are doing too many things in too short a time. Me always panicking not to have enough time for all I want to do. Kevin is much more relaxed with that, adopting the surely healthier position:

„We are on holiday, we just do what we want, and when we can´t do everything now, then we will do it another time! Portugal is just one night away from home!“

I am trying to adopt this philosophy myself, but unfortunately I see everywhere things which I would like to sketch, then make some different paintings based on the sketches and I have in fact only time to sketch 10% of what I see at the first glance. This is frustrating and panicking. I kind of knew before that we should not plan to do Portugal in 7 weeks. Although it seems a long time for such a small country, I kind of need a whole day or even two in each place which attract my artist´s eyes, and there has been already plenty until now! The result is a continuous rushing, at least in my mind, and growing tiredness…

This morning for example. Ah, by the way, I must tell you my dream.Kevin was Saddam Hussein, and in it he had a little boy made out of plastic but alive, about 20 centimeters big. I found the little plastic baby abandoned on the ground, crying. A cute little thing in fact, consisting of only 2 spheres, the smaller one with 2 big eyes and a mouth. I took it in my hands, and within some minutes it became a 16 year-old soldier, still made out of plastic. As a toy, but alive, with a full range of weapons around the body…

Yes, this morning…After breakfast we walked through the town, up the hill to the more ancient part of the town. I saw dozens and dozens of motives and I didn´t do one! I had it in my head that I had to colour the sketches from yesterday with the boats, as long as the colours impression remained in my memory. The idea of making new sketches, all having to stay black and white until the end of time, depressed me. And in fact this is exactly what will happen. Almost everything I draw will stay black and white, although this country is so full of wonderful colours everywhere!

The Magnum Almond Ice Cream at the end of the walk comforted my stomach a little, but surely not my soul…. although it was a wonderful walk, where we visited 2 churches, our first Portuguese churches. They were restoring the first one and the workers played pop music inside from a beat box, a strange feeling…The second one was big and wonderful, the walls covered by gigantic motives in blue and white ceramics. I never saw anything like that before…

And the people were all so kind, smiling and wishing us a „bom dia„ everywhere…

I guess that many people who read this will think how unthankful it is from me to moan about the lack of time! I am sure that many artists would envy my life… but well, this does not help me any further. I never understood how people could feel better just by the thought that some others have a worse life than their own… I need more time to paint, much more time, this is simply a fact!

Anyway… we left Alcacer about 1 in the afternoon, driving amongst rice fields. It was funny to see storks everywhere standing in the rice fields, searhcing for food. One is much more used to see flamingos doing that…

We drove to Setubal, which was announced in my book as the third biggest sea harbour in Portugal. I quite hate big crowded places, I always kind of feel claustrophobic there, and very tiny. Must be a kind of complex, deep inside…

And in fact the crossing of Setubal was not of the romantic kind, and if there was something beautiful to see here, we had no chance to see it. We rushed out of the city as soon as possible. It was quite the same feeling as in Sines. Perhaps they are all the same, these big harbour cities in Portugal. I just hope that Porto won´t be! Lisbon is not, I know that, having been there twice already, the second time for the World Expo, about… 10 years ago?

We drove along the coast leading to…, a beautiful coast road which reminded me of the Italian coast, south of Genova. But although it was beautiful, I didn’t feel comfortable at all, all these people lying on the beaches and bathing, I thought, I could have stayed in Benidorm to see that! Kevin is very different from me on this point, he loves the places with many people having fun and enjoying life in a easy way. I guess I will have to make some compromisses and give him time to go and bathe in the Atlantic on a beautiful beach, he so much fancies doing that!

We ended the day driving from one town to another, until we could find a spot to spend the night. We are now one night from Lisbon, on the other side of the Vasco de Gama bridge. The last 50 kilometers I had a strange feeling coming over me, a feeling of insecurity, the first time since we arrived in Portugal. I wonder if it is because we are approaching the capital…

2 Responses to “Portugal in the Box #8”

  1. Daud Says:

    Seize the day and enjoy step by step.
    The sun’s gonna shine tomorrow 🙂

  2. Susan Cornelis Says:

    THis is such an obvious thought that I hesitate to bring it up. . .and I am writing over a week after your entry. . .but why don’t you just stop for a few days in one beautiful place where you want to paint? I always have the same feeling when I’m traveling – not enough time to soak it all up and paint it down.


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