Tomorrow is the first day of March, which means I have only three short weeks left in Portugal (for now). The cliché saying is true, time does fly by when you're having fun. I haven't had a dull day since I arrived in January, besides the 5 days total that I was sick. My week days have been busy bouncing back and forth between classes at school, going for walks around Lisbon, and trying to catch as many beautiful sunsets as possible (every sunset in this country is breathtaking). My weekends have been filled with exciting adventures to different destinations around this amazing country, including a trip to the island of São Miguel in the Azores during Carnaval break.
In addition to bringing English to the classroom, I've tried to incorporate some pieces of American culture into the routine of the host family. They always do a great job at keeping me fed, and I love cooking so I wanted to offer my skills in the kitchen for a meal. We agreed that it would be a Mexican/American dining experience. One Saturday night the host parents invited over some friends for a fiesta feast. I had some help from one of the other volunteers who I invited to join us. We created a menu of build your own burritos, queso, guacamole, salsa, and of course margaritas. It was such a hit. The family and their friends all enjoyed the meal thoroughly.
I'm so grateful for the host family I was placed with. Instead of booking trips out of Lisbon every weekend, last weekend I decided that I would stay with them for a somewhat local experience. On Saturday we visited the coastal town of Cascais. The family calls this "the Malibu of Portugal" and I could see why. We went sightseeing to Cabo da Roca, walked along Praia do Guincho, caught a glimpse of Boca do Inferno at sunset, and ate the most delicious gelato at Santini to cap of the day.
On Sunday we set out of Setúbal to visit the host fathers hometown and enjoy a freshly caught seafood lunch with his mother and grandmother. On the way there we took a drive through Arrábida Natural Park. I had expressed to them my love of nature and the mountains, so I was very grateful that they took the time to show be this wonderful park.
We spotted some paragliders up above the mountains and I said how I've always wanted to do something like that. Well, within 30 minutes of me talking about my desire for adventure, I was strapped to a parapente (paraglider in Portuguese) professional and running full speed off the side of a mountain. This is by far the coolest thing I've ever done! I sailed comfortably through the sky, watching my shadow soar over lush green mountains and then over the Atlantic Ocean. As we landed on the beach I was almost speechless. What an experience!
I've had so many amazing adventures in the past six weeks, mostly which I had somewhat planned ahead for. I think the most fun I had was when life became spontaneous. You may have all these ideas of exactly how you want your program to unfold, what kind of things you want to see and do, but it's best to just let yourself go and see where the wind takes you. It's bitter sweet that I only have less than a month left in the program, but I know for certain that I will be returning to Portugal.