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Lisbona Fide

Such is life. A phrase overheard as I was reflecting on my 2 week trip throughout Europe over breakfast in the Berlin airport. It was my last full day before flying home, and these words nicely resemble how traveling across the world creates a novel collage. Hugging loved ones, laughing with strangers, sharing meals over native cuisine, climbing peaks, losing sleep, dancing until sunrise and saying goodbyes. All precious moments sewn together with thread across timezones, adding to the quilt of experienced lessons.

I landed in Lisbon at 5:30 AM to spend the first week of my journey in Europe. Touching down into the unknowingly metamorphosis phase, my eyes were wide with eager and naive nervousness. I would soon immerse myself in a place undiscovered to me. Traveling solo across the transatlantic was a fear of mine, so I wanted to preserve this first week before meeting up with friends to observe how I moved about in this world. I was fortunate to have sat next to my newfound “Portuguese parents” on the flight, who reassured me of the adventures that awaited and good graces I was in.

Raw and romantic
scars of beauty
Gritty with delight
form a city
Flowing steady
like tram 28

Affluent in culture
decorated with delicacies
Vibrant tiles
light up the walls
Tested through time
by tsunamis and earthquakes

Cobblestone streets
hilly as they wrap the city
echo sounds of unity
over seafood delight

The historic city of Lisbon stands strong to the fist of empires and disasters that have tried to weather it’s past. Ingrained in the buildings and alive in the souls of it’s natives, Portugal is warm with a fierce heart.

Outside of the city’s nucleus, the charm and quiet resting face of Lisbon comes alive. Ancient architecture, strewn with modern ideology, creates a dichotomy of richness. Walking the streets, there was a sense of ease in the time-honored foundation with a welcoming for fresh pigmentation.

Listening to the soft sounds of traditional fado music, surfing dreamy moonlighted waves, pondering life in the silent monk gardens, and sharing worldviews, the melody of Portugal hummed a winding symphonic tune. Cupping me in it’s palms, the feelings of being lost or discouraged from traveling alone were warmly met with reassurance.

I spent the last evening in Lisbon with my Portuguese family from the flight, enjoying jazz night and dinner at their abode. We witnessed one of the most creative and precise drummers I’ve ever seen. The rhythm of the beat rolled steady with flavor and excitement. This driving bassline runs parallel to the way travelers and inhabitants of Portugal bounce in their step to what life brings – filled with enthusiasm for humanity and the grittiness possessed by forefathers from the Age of Exploration. A refreshing approach for someone like me who snuck away from the capitalist carousel for a couple weeks.

It’s awe-inspiring to watch the same sun set and see the same stars twinkle above, no matter what corner of this planet we find ourselves facing.

As I laid under the Swiss Alps the night after leaving Lisbon, I was overcome with a revitalizing feeling from the impact Portugal left on me. I was set to run my first 15k trailrace the next morning but my mind had already gotten a head start. Pen to paper, the words strung together.

From the same
initiated individualized
Gifted an unseen eye
cursed through uncharted hillside

The last train to Rossio sets off
Parque da Peńa comes alive

Awake in the stillness
cobblestone trails are blazed

Crafted creativity
not to be repeated

In a similar vein
parallel universe
intertwined in shared minds

Set at a table
come together
estuary tides

In a moment of space
cherished memories
though infinitely married

Fit into one carry-on
a lifetime of treasures
dance to the drum

Art that is not shared goes to die. – Catarina

Holding the lessons we learn along our journey can become obsolete if archived for too long. Passing them on breathes a new life. It’s easy to let intimate memories and the smells of ocean breeze from a Lisbon balcony drift away as the swell rolls on. Surfing the different time realities of everyday life, travels, climbing mountains, or sitting at a desk, require complex intersections.

The connective tissue of internal time is shaped through shared practices. Wrapping our shoulders in a quilt of experience, reassurance is met on the path worth leading.

Thomas Stefani
Novembro, 2023

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Born and raised in Michigan, Tom is a data analyst by day and an artist by night. After graduating Michigan State University, he moved to Utah with the autonomy of being a digital nomad. He is a thrill seeker who is passionate about the outdoors, creating intersections of ideas, and recording music.


Últimos comentários
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    So glad we crossed paths. Refreshing to meet a thoughtful young man full of curiosity and genuine empathy. THank you for sharing with us a fresh and generous look on beautiful Lisbon. May you come back soon

  • Avatar

    How beautiful it is the random connections we make, as the intertwined cables of Lisbon trams, we are all connected some how, by experiencing this connections we end up inspiring each other.
    Loved to meet Tom, a soul family of some kind. Much love Cat