BRAWL IN A PORTUGUESE BAR A True Story from a Pinoy Adventurer eastwind journals By Bernie Lopez, email@example.com Share via link = http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-02 A story dedicated to the Millions of OFWs across the planet, who are away from home. Please pass to them.
This is an excerpt from the book Wings and Wanderlust, the Art of Discovering Your Inner Self, a true story of the daring adventure of a Filipino Programmer from New York turned drifter, hitchhiking 25,000 kilometers for 3 years across Western Europe and North Africa. More than a travelogue, it is a guide to discovering one’s inner self.
It was spring at last. I left Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, hitchhiking to Portugal to watch the bull fiesta at Vila Franca de Xira. At the border was the quaint village of Vila Real de Santo Antonio. It was dusk. I was tired and hungry. I peeked into a noisy bar. The bartender beckoned. As soon as I entered, there was total silence. Everyone stared in awe at me and my guitar and long hair. I smiled, and everyone went back to talking. Hitchhikers do not normally carry a heavy guitar, but I did because, for me, it was a magic wand on the road. Somehow, it attracted true adventure.
The batender asked me to sing. Everyone gathered around me. It was April but I sang a Christmas carol ANG PASKO AY SUMAPIT. The chords were easy to play. A huge mug of cold beer slid down the ramp and screeched to a halt in front of me, frothing with anger. A large salami sandwich came next. After my song, they grabbed the guitar. Someone sang a sad Portuguese folk song while I ate ravenously. Then, all hell broke loose.
That night, I had about six mugs of beer, something I had not done for a long time. It was a far cry from the meditative cave in Lanzarote, where I lived for a month. I was out of Africa, back in Europe were alcohol was king. After the silence of the cave, the noise of a bar was heaven. It was good to mix with the rowdy Portuguese. I did not know it was easy to understand Portuguese if you spoke broken Spanish. With a little help from non-verbal communications, I felt at home in Portugal.
A guy put an arm around my shoulder, “Listen, young man, where are you sleeping tonight?”
I shrugged my shoulder, “I don’t know. Perhaps in the park outside, if there are no hostels.
His eyes widened in amusement. He laughed aloud until he choked. “You sleep in the park outside? That’s terrible. Nonsense. You sleep in my house tonight.”
“You’re sure it’s no trouble?”
“No trouble at all. It is my privilege to have a Filipino for a guest. We never see Filipinos around here, you know.”
“Okay, muito obrigato.” I did not remember if that was Catalan or Portuguese, but he understood and laughed.
“Fine. I’ll see you later.”
He left to join others who were singing. There were no videokes or karaokes then. I joined others who were trying to talk to me. Everyone had to shout to be heard. Another guy called me aside. He almost fell on me.
“Where are you sleeping tonight, my friend?” he said.
“Someone offered me to sleep in his house.”
I pointed to the guy who was by now trying to sing.
He said, “Sebastian? Nonsense. You’re sleeping in my house tonight.”
I shrugged my shoulders, “Doesn’t matter where.”
“No, you sleep in my house,” he insisted with finality.
“Talk to him,” I smiled.
He marched straight to Sebastian. They had an argument. The chaos was reaching a climax. Then it happened. The two had a fist fight. One went down on the floor. The other dove at him and they grappled like children on the floor to the amusement of everyone. Everyone was shouting like they were in an American wrestling match.
I felt so privileged that in my first Portuguese village, people were fighting over me to sleep in their house. I never forgot that glorious evening. But if I did not leave, there would be a dilemma. I took my guitar, and gave a signal to the bartender, who gave a thumbs-up. Quietly, I slipped away and walked to a nearby park. The pandemonium vanished instantly. There was a deafening silence, the sacred Portuguese evening.
I slept in the park. There was no rain. I preferred sleeping in the open alone rather than feeling rigid as a guest of an over-hospitable host. The Portuguese were very much like Filipinos, I thought, warm, over-hospitable, easy to befriend, noisy, over-acting when drunk, unassuming, and reckless. I looked forward to Algarve, to the bull fiesta, and to Fatima, where i would take a pilgrimage, walking 80 kilometers for seven days to say hello to Mama Mary.
Everywhere I went, I had no fear of danger. My guardian angel was always around. In my 3 years on the road, covering 25,000 kilometers, I was always safe. You have to be a Child of the Universe to understand what I mean. (See posters below)
by Bernie V. Lopez, firstname.lastname@example.org
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