I’m sitting here in the Tripola Jota Cafe Bar; and with me a feeling of freedom and adventure like in a cheesy western.
Next to me are Portuguese men – workers and pensioners – smoking with a beer in their hands. Their “ponies” are small cars and vans that they have parked here for an hour after work to chat the day away with friends. The bar’s veranda is right on the street, and the local evening traffic whizzes past again and again. It gets more and more crowded. Men with very different personalities come in, order a beer, rarely a red wine, smoke and talk. Two black men enjoy their brandy.
I enjoy the sun and the atmosphere. By now I’ve got used to the sound of the Portuguese language, even if I don’t understand anything yet. I practise daily and regularly.
My horse is my e-MTB. Today I took it to Coimbra, 16 kilometres away. I was pretty much alone and exotic there on my bike, but it was fun to cruise easily through the steep old town centre.
The sun is now quickly setting and I enjoy the last rays. Another 30 minutes or so, then the temperature suddenly drops by 10 degrees.
Back to the café with the gaunt, smoking landlady behind the counter, her age impossible to estimate. The only woman in the place who shouts loudly after a leaving customer that he has forgotten his receipt.
Despite all the chatter and street noise, the setting seems intimate and reassuring to me. Boa Tarde – good day to every newcomer. It’s as if I sit here every day. Whatever life all these men go back to in an hour, at this moment they are a community. Talking, discussing and paying no attention to the TV that’s always on – why should they?
Life is here and now!
Condeixa-a-Velha | 23rd Nov 2023 | REH
Impressions of Coimbra