For the international students, a ticket to the student protest cost 0.5€ and included lunch.
What a world.
The protests were in opposition to austerity measures aimed at balancing the national budget at the expense of the university and education systems among other public finance projects.
The local Portuguese news stations interviewed my Belgian amigo, asking why the international students were participating. He explained that we were trying to get the sense of the Portuguese student and how it was part of a larger cultural and social education that went far beyond books and classrooms. Then our other friend took his beer away from him. This actually happened.
Until that moment, my motivation had been a cheap trip to Lisbon (and lunch!).
In that instant, I felt a bit selfish and small.
Once we got to Lisbon, we yelled like sumbitches as we marched. Afterward there was still time to explore the city and eat plenty of pasteis de nata, an egg custard pastry that is just damn delightful.
We then almost got left behind but managed to catch the straggler bus and got home late, tired and fulfilled in one of those ways that defies good categorization.
In many ways that little episode mostly mirrors the last two months. I joined something because I thought it would be a fun way to “see the sights”. Then I learned something that changed the way I viewed how I used my time.
Which is a good thing.
Because the very next week, the international student office called to see if I would be a guide for the United States’ delegation to the first ever World Cup of Powered Wheelchair Soccer.
Say what now?!? Find out tomorrow on the next installment of Danny’s Portuguese (Mis)Adventures.