Early Beginnings in Portugal

I have been traveling to Portugal for almost 20 years now and simply have fallen in love with this country!  I first arrived in early 2002 to see my Portuguese friend again from the Portuguese National Park Service.  She had recited ancient poetry in Portuguese on the Chesapeake Bay at our wedding and we considered her family.  A biologist who headed up the Iberian lynx reintroduction program in Portugal, she had always been a kind and adventurous colleague and companion.  Now, I was visiting her for the first time in her home city of Lisbon. 

She met me at the airport and soon told me her father had died the week before.   I couldn’t believe she hadn’t told me and out of respect for her privacy, I offered to come back another time.  But in true Portuguese fashion, she told me she wanted my company and that she had been given a month off work to grieve.  Wow!  A humane Federal bureaucracy and I spent one of the best months in my life, having heartfelt chats over coffee, visiting the amazing church at Batalha, and getting to know her family all the way to Algarve to meet her grandfather.  I was adopted then and there and knew if I ever came back to Portugal, I would have family there.

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