Welcome to Portugal, where you can’t do things quickly, even if you try.

At the beginning of 2015, I had 2 goals for this blog:

1. Continue to write regularly

2. Write more about my feelings and experiences, as opposed to a steady stream of I-went-here stories (though I do plan to continue those as well!)

June is around the corner and I’ve published so few posts that I have an actual backlog list of 20 blog posts waiting to be written. They’re coming, I promise!

Today I bring you a brief post about my personal state of mind and a rather funny realization that Kevin and I had today.

You may have heard people joke about the slow pace of Europe, particularly southern Europe. Let me be the first to tell you, that shit is no joke.

When you wake up to sunshine and birds singing and fresh orange juice from the backyard, work just doesn’t seem all that important. While I was in Cambodia, I worked non-stop. Don’t get me wrong, I took plenty of time for fun, but I didn’t have social ties or distractions, and so it was easy for me to throw myself head first into nonstop work. Without that, this blog probably wouldn’t even exist.

In Portugal, there are many distractions. Both literal and mental. With a car and with Kevin’s familiarity with the Algarve, it’s all too easy to find things to do. And it’s hard to explain, but this place just feels relaxed. Life in the Algarve is just so damn pleasant, you never feel guilty for not “getting shit done”.

On top of that, with Kevin’s dental disaster continuing on an open-ended schedule, we quickly learned to stop asking questions or talking about “what’s next”. It’s hard to plan the next adventure when you don’t even know when it can begin.

This week has marked the first time since January that we’ve felt comfortable discussing that elusive “next”, possibly even laying down a timeline. We’re still in southern Europe, but these thoughts and possibilities kickstarted something in both of us.

We’ve both spent the past 2 days working feverishly. It feels natural to fall back into a work-hard groove, getting lots of things done, and quickly.

Which brings us to today. We had big plans: get up early-ish (11am, since we stay up till 4am while I work – more on that later!), go to the grocery store at the Algarve Shopping mall, come home, then head back to the mall to see a mid-afternoon screening of Mad Max. After all, it’s Tuesday. Indulging in Tuesday movie deals was a well-followed tradition for us in Toronto.

So that was our plan. A bit more rushed than our typical schedule, but that’s no problem, right?


Instead of a quick trip to the grocery store with Kevin’s grandmother, the three of us ended up checking out several shops throughout the mall, then having lunch, and then realizing,”shit, it’s 3pm, we’ll have to rush, but we can definitely make that film at 4:30 if we hustle”.


We did the fastest grocery shopping we’ve ever done in Portugal. We thought that by rushing our shopping, we’d get in and out quickly, and home in time to go to the movies. Of course, we couldn’t have planned for this:

– the grocery store was under construction and every single section had been moved somewhere new

– at this grocery store, you have to weigh your produce at a special station before the checkout. Not only did we forget to weigh our watermelon, so did the two families in line ahead of us. And obviously it took them twice as long as us to resolve that issue.

– for almost 10 minutes on our drive home, we were stuck behind a rather slow-moving tractor


On the drive home, the realization hit me: we’re back in North American mode, but we’re still in Southern Europe.

Even if we’re in the mood to really ‘get shit done’, we’ll drive ourselves mad if we don’t keep in mind that the Algarve is too relaxed to be compatible with our North American, do-things-fast mentality.

Fingers crossed that this new surge of energy for working will keep me posting more regularly!

And just for all that reading, here’s a series of photos us relaxing around Alte and of me making orange juice in true, laid-back, Algarvian fashion:

2 thoughts on “Welcome to Portugal, where you can’t do things quickly, even if you try.

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