perjantai 25. marraskuuta 2016

The weather forecast in Lisbon: Ice Age

When you have nothing to say but there is the risk of an awkward silence, we usually speak about the weather. It is THE topic. No matter where you are.
It is sunny, it is cold, it looks like it´s going to rain, uff the cold. As I have had a radio silence the past weeks, I will take up the challenge of “the weather”. But I have a good reason.
In Finland it never occurred to me that I could freeze to death. In Portugal my life is a constant struggle not to turn into a deep frozen fish stick. In the North, the cold gives you a slap in the face. Wearing enough clothes will help you. Meanwhile in Portugal; stockings, jeans, socks, stocking long sleeve shirt, jumper, jacket, hat and gloves. I will survive! And the chill is on your bones. It´s like freezing from inside out, not outside in. The digital pharmacy sign tells you it´s +9! LIES
Yesterday, happily walking home at night dressed as a look-a-like Michelin man it started raining. FOGO (crap or something similar). There I was, soaking wet.
It does not make my dramatic life brighter at all, not having proper isolation or heating system at home. Going to bed is quite ok, it is cold but the battery and fleece pajama warms you up. However, if your blanket falls down and reveals some body part at night, you instantly wake up and cover yourself before you need an amputation. In the morning you prepare to run from the bedroom to the bathroom. Run? It´s so cold you might freeze on the way. Btw, the bathroom seat is no treat either. You butt might deep freeze on the rim.
The cherry topping: People laugh at my fight against the cold. Would you believe it? They mock me for being “over sensitive”. If you read in Iltalehti about a Finn who was found frozen in Lisbon, it was me.

sunnuntai 13. marraskuuta 2016

A São Martinho get together

Last Friday we celebrated São Martinho at work. In general, the Portuguese are very settle celebrators. At least in Lisbon. I have heard that in other parts of Portugal, especially the North, the people go all festive on certain days. But Lisbon, tsirp tsirp (it's a cricket).

When I lived in Spain some years ago, I could not wrap my mind around how many church parties there could be. Honestly, every week there was a parade in some part of the city where people were dressed as in the 1800th Century dragging a huge cross around. And then eventually becoming completely and utterly wasted. First church, then drink.

The Lisbon experience has been different. On Halloween (Dia das Bruxas) people were dragged into the party. The festivity was showed into their partyless lives. But São Martinho is another story.

São Martinho is celebrated 11.11. There is a legend to tell the story, involving a beggar a cloak and good weather. The rest I already forgot... and to be honest, when I asked around nobody knew. People are just interested in castanhas, Jeropiga e Agua-pé. That is; chestnut, alcoholic beverage and other alcoholic beverage. Its the theme of the day. Eat roasted chestnuts and alcohol for the mix of flavors.
To be honest it has got something to do with trying out 'new wine' and summer of São Martinho, which means a come back summer for a couple of days. Which is true, the sun is shining from a clear blue sky currently.

Back to the Friday party. We organized a chestnut-man to come roast chestnuts outside of the office building. The chestnuts were wrapped in company branded paper and the service was paid by the company. It was a nice event. Anybody wanting to have roasted chestnuts could come get some. Nice marketing initiative, I must say...

If you come to Lisbon, there's roasted chestnuts in every corner of the city until March when the strawberry season starts. (Roughly estimated.) Try them, so goooood and full of nutrients.

Have a lovely Sunday ya'll.

torstai 3. marraskuuta 2016

How living abroad made me patriotic

My personal pride of being Finnish (and recognizing other Finns abroad with a “Moi”) has increased from floor level through the roof. It´s hilarious. When we lived in Finland we couldn´t wait to move abroad. Get away from this tiny country, which is not “in” or even considered to be on the world map.

So, (ha-ha) we moved to Portugal. An even tinier country (geographically), which is as unknown as Finland. Portugal is in the shadow of Spain (but working hard to place itself on the mental world map of people) and good old Finland is kind of shadowed by Scandinavia and Russia. Is Finland even part of Scandinavia? I would say yes. But technically it´s not. And ok, Portugal is known as a football country, but theres so much more into it.

So what has happened? Well basically being a Finn in Portugal makes you stand out, a lot. At least if you get incorporated in groups of people who are only Portuguese. Taking an example, every official company event or business trip, I do get recognized for not being Portuguese. I stand out as a parrot among pigeons. All eyes on me. Standing out makes me different, and I like to feed the fact with my personal pride of the country I am from.

But how do you mean patriotic? I have been asked “tell me about Finland, what is your home like”. I usually skip the part of gray, cold, depressing, expensive, no jobs … it´s kind of rude and comparable to shooting yourself in the leg. Why would I dig a hole? So I tell them. It’s the country of a thousand lakes. The summer is warm and the people are nice. The nature is close, its green and you can walk around in it. The forest is a place where you can find peace and breathe fresh air. During winter the snow hangs on tree branches. White reflects light illuminating the air. The air you breathe is cold in the lungs like a menthol gum, your cheeks and nose turn red... Then I get homesick.

Moreover, I was asked to bring “salminakki” to work for Halloween because it´s black. And what was the name of that good Finnish chocolate fizer (fazer)? And you have that really good food, carne de reno (poronpaisti). They know, I am so proud.
I also think the Finnish ruisleipa is the best thing on earth. And Finnish candy is not even comparable to other countries. I always have a stash of remix at home.
Thank God I am going home for Christmas for reality therapy. Then I will happily return to my second home, Lisbon.