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9 Things All Portuguese Are Born Knowing How to Do

Portugal Student Work
by Sandra Guedes Dec 28, 2015

1. Being hungry

Maybe it’s because we spent nine months inside our mothers’ bellies while they ate Caldo Verde. But the truth is, we spend our entire day thinking about food. In the morning while we sip on a galão and eat torrada com manteiga, we think of Açorda com Marisco. At lunch, we discuss what everyone else had for dinner the night before and, if we are still unsure of what we are going to eat tonight we ask others, “Que vais jantar hoje?”

2. Adapting to multiple climates

We can adapt to living in from Trás-os-Montes to the Algarve passing by the mild climate of Madeira and the bipolar weather of Azores. That’s why such a small country conquered the world! Well… half of it.

3. Turning Portuguese into other languages

Everyone in Portugal knows how to speak Portunhol. It’s very easy; we just give Spanish a little twang and hope for the best. But given the chance — and the lack of vocabulary — we can speak Frenchol, Englishol, Arabol, and even Chinesol!

4. Worrying about what other people think

It seems that from the moment we left our mother’s womb we have been looking in the mirror. Not out of vanity, to make sure we look pretty, but to avoid “as más línguas.”

5. Daydreaming

As António Gedeão says, it’s “o sonho comanda a vida” — not life that commands the dream!

D. Afonso Henriques dreamt of having his own country and went on to fight his mother and cousin to create it. A few centuries later, a bunch of fishermen dreamt of going to India to buy some spices completely ignoring that there was only one million people in the country, and someone had to look after it. In the XX century, a group of men dreamt of freeing 10 million people of a dictatorship without blood being shed and now the 25th of April is a national holiday.

What will the future hold next? Well, it’s being written in our dreams.

6. Pulling rabbits out of a hat

We may not all be like the great Portuguese magician Luis de Matos, but somehow we all have this attitude to find creative solutions when no one expects us to. Maybe that is why some think we are a bit chico-espertos or trafulhas, but the truth is we have a natural ability to come up with spontaneous solutions. If there are only tomatoes in the fridge and rice in the cupboard, we may just pull out an onion – possibly out of the neighbours’ cupboard — and make a delicious arroz de tomate to go with the jaquinzinhos you just bought.

And did I mention, in five minutes there will be more than enough for your friends too?

7. Longing for yesterday

The Beatles said it, but we, saudosistas, invented it. When we say, “Tenho saudades tuas,“ we do not say, “We miss you.” When we say, “Tenho saudades daquela altura,” we do not say, “I miss those days.” When we say, “Saudades”, we feel the loss, the melancholy, distance and love all at once. And yet, we cannot stop ourselves from letting it linger and embrace it. It’s in the nostalgia tear that threatens to fall because yesterday is gone, it’s in the loneliness we feel after a virtual greeting to those who left and it’s in the facebook meme that says “Recordar é viver.”

Yesterday was perfect, “Lembras-te?”

8. Blaming others

Did you notice when our favourite team losses it’s not the players or the manager’s fault? It’s usually the referee that messes the game up. By the way do you remember that time you ran out of petrol because BP was too far? Or when you arrived late to work because the IC19 was packed with cars? If the level of cholesterol goes up, it’s must have been the delicious Carne de Porco à Alentejana that travelled by itself to our bellies. What do you mean it’s because we ate Bacalhau à Brás with mayo?

9. Being poets

In the same way that when D.Pedro fell in love with Inês de Castro, not even death could wipe away the poetry of their feelings. He digged her grave and crowned her Queen. Florbela Espanca reminds us, “Ser poeta é ser mais alto.” We are not adventurous, “We are hungry and thirsty for the infinite.” When we cannot sleep, “We sing the night until the day comes.”

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