HELLOOOO alll.. I write to you as an older (!!!!!) & wiser (not really) person.. I just celebrated my 26th birthday & like wiiine.. my life only seems to get better with age. as each year passes, I gain experiences, broaden my perspective, deepen my understanding of the world around me, and develop more meaningful relationships... BLABLABLA [insert sappy quote here!] 25 has definitely been one for the books & I'm eagerly anticipating all the things that are still yet to come (like Carnival in Rio!!!!!!!!!)
i'm incredibly overwhelmed by the outpouring of love i received from friends all over the world :) i’m sosososo lucky to have met so many wonderful people in my 26 years+ of existence :D i wish i could be with you all to give you massive hugs and kissessssss!!!! Or maybe a face lick and a b(o)(o)b rub because that's more my style JAJAJAJAJAJA...
I spent the past few days, including my birthday, in a wonderful little college town called Coimbra with some of the coolest people i’ve met on my trip thus far. We spent one night at an outdoor jazz concert and when i closed my eyes to take in the music and imagine myself in the most ideal, picturesque setting, i opened eyes only to realize that i was already there…nestled in a cute little plaza, sandwiched in between gorgeous old buildings, in the middle of a Medieval town in Portugal… like.. is this real life?!?!
at that moment, i felt an incredible sense of joy & contentment knowing that i get to live my life on my own terms and pursue the things that matter to me... when you grow up & work in a place like NYC where everyone is always searching for the next best thing or comparing themselves to others or checking off a list of lofty goals that may not even personally be their own dreams & desires... its so easy to get caught up living up to an image rather than living a fulfilling life.. everyone has their own ambitions and things that motivate them and for me, money is good, but it's not everything and it's certainly not my end goal.
i'm obviously in an extremely privileged position to so i can't prophesize and tell others to follow their heart, etc. etc. because their circumstances may be different than mine, but all i know is that i am extremely grateful for everything that has happened in my life and that i'm truly #blessed
ANYWAY, back to coimbra.. i originally meant to stay for about 2 days but i loved the people i met so much that i actually ended up staying for around five… and even then it was still hard for me to leave... I was staying in a Republica, historical student houses that remind me a tad bit of frat houses back home (definitely had a little bit of nostalgia roaming around the halls)
According to Wikipedia (the ultimate source of knowledge!) the origins of Republicas date back to the 14th century and are characterized by the exaltation of universal values that unite past and present: life in community, sovereignty and democracy. Decisions are generally taken unanimously and all members accountable in managing the “home"
The people at the particular Republica i was staying in, Do Ras Teparta, really embodied the open, cooperative, communal, and intellectual ideas that the original republicas were based upon :) They were extremely kind and welcoming, sharing their food and opinions about socialism, soccer, and such with me :D it’s really unfortunate that many of the republicas are in danger of being shut down to make way for private, more expensive homes that owners can charge more for since most of them are in prime locations right by the university. fuckiiiing gentrification... it's a piece of shit.
I also had a teeeensssssyy (huge) crush on one of the guys, Edgar, a very smart & very cute Brazilian dude with a huge smile, an infectious energy, tons of charisma, a beautiful, free spirit, super hot tattoos, and so much passion and knowledge.. plus he had the sexiest voiceeeee especially when he spokeee Braziliannn (yes, I know, Brazilians speak Portuguese but with more swag, as he likes to say.) yessss.. i was a smitten kitten :) he's finishing up his masters in geography so he was super busy writing his thesis, which has something to do with urban planning in Rio, but he took a little break to show me around and entertain me... which includes a couple of things i can’t mention here cus my mom reads this HAHAHAHA.
As soon as I got to Coimbra, we made our way to a cute little town called Crato where there was a music festival where we watched the Brazilian rapper, Marcelo D2, and the reggae band, SOHN, perform. I really enjoyed the show.. and even though I could not understand a word of what Marcelo D2 was rapping about, I enjoyed the beats & his flow… that’s the wonderful thing about hip-hop.. completely universal. We ended up camping in a park, which was a fun little adventure…
I’ve also spent my time hanging out with Marisa, another happy, optimistic, intelligent, and all around beautiful person whose about to start her masters in law.. Her boyfriend, Dominique, also lives in the Republica and he’s studying really hard to finish up his degree, so she and i spent a lot of time together while the guys were doing work… She took me around the campus which was absolutely gorgeous.. students also dress up in harry potter like robes which i could not stop obsessing about..
We did a bit of drinking and lots of laughing and bonded over our mutual love for Rihanna…it was really nice to hang out with a her and gossip like old girl friends (even though we just met!)… and of course discuss the differences between the American and Portuguese judicial system cus we’re not only cute, but super smart too :D She suggested that I visit a nearby town called Aviero, known as the Venice of Portugal… since everyone was super busy the day i wanted to go, i decided to venture off by myself…
it was a really bright and colorful place.. i ended up drinking alone at a cafe when a random guy decided to plop down in the chair across from me and initiate a conversation… i was kind of annoyed at first (all i wanted to do was read!) but i ended up really enjoying our conversation which was about poverty, job prospects and the declining birth rate in Portugal (i know.. really fun topics!) he also made jewelry and when i told him that it was my birthday the day before, he gave me a beautiful bracelet.. i tried to give him money, but he refused to take it.. he just asked that i share my experience in Portugal.. which obviously have been extremely positive :)
it’s weird to think i’ll be home soon (for a few weeks at least!).. portugal has been absolutely magical and really, really, really beautiful and relaxing and filled with some of the kindest people i’ve met.. i am looking forward to spending the next few days on a beach, exploring some castles.. and hanging out with another visitor :)