I had never been to Lisbon before this trip and though it’s beautiful, I notice that it feels like an enormous distraction. I’m here to discover myself and I feel pressured to sight-see and window shop. This is not why I came here, though. Initially I thought I’d made a mistake staying in Lisbon for only two nights, and as I drive out of it I felt relieved to be back on my way.
As I drive along the perfectly paved highway, past cemented structures used for living and storing goods, I miss the lush vegetation of Costa Rica, and crave the nothingness of nature. I feel like everything is too built up and I wonder where my space is.
After an hour, I follow my GPS’s guidance and turn off the highway onto a road, which has fewer and fewer houses. I see a patch of grass covered with grazing cows, and my heart feels happy. I arrive at my destination and am welcomed by a most interesting host, Sam. He gives me a tour of the house I’m staying in and invites me to lunch. I take a moment to settle in the house, and notice the complete silence. It’s heaven to my listening senses. However, my senses crave animals, like monkeys and sloths being in their true nature.
I walk to Sam’s house, and am immediately flocked by his 5, maybe 6, could even be 7 dogs. Animals! And these dogs have not had the nature conditioned out of them. They bark to tell Sam someone new is entering his home. They take turns smelling me and then jumping on me, to have their heads and bodies pet. And then I enter the dining area where I learn that Sam has a WWOF farm and has 3 WWOFers staying with him – Luka from Poland, Eric from France and Roy from Holland. We have a wonderful lunch (on my second lunch with them I learned that you must not hesitate to finish the food on your plate because a dog will jump in your lap and lick your plate clean while you are doing all that thinking about whether or not to eat the last morsel.) This turns into a dinner invitation and I find myself surrounded by a simply fascinating group of men.
Sam is an artist, and takes care of nature and the environment and is a teacher and a philosopher so I feel wonderfully challenged with thought-provoking words and ideas at every moment. We are like his students and there is a lovely energy that flows among us.
I have been wondering why I chose to come to Europe as opposed to someplace else in the world. My experience here makes me realize at least part of the purpose of this phase of my journey. Europe, for me (and I had forgotten) is a place of culture but more importantly, of great intellect. For reasons I don’t understand, I have some of the most intellectually stimulating conversations with people in Europe where we can sit around a table with, or without, food for hours conversing about all types of topics. I have craved that intellectual stimulation, and without remembering I needed it, I have stumbled right into its path.