Posts tagged ‘Portugal’

Overdue post about that trip to Portugal

AveiroBack when my camera still worked.

Well, seems like that sign I put up on my last post was more than accurate… I didn’t mean to. I really did mean to write about my adventures that very day but then I never got around to do it.

In the meantime, I packed up all my shit and moved, my boyfriend left and now I’m more or less settled in my new place. This time I will not get sidetracked. I will tell you all about my moving and my new place on one of my next posts.

Anyways, I’m gonna spare you all of the “ahhh we went here” and “ooh we went there” and all that “it was so nice” crap and cheesy pictures of us in front of this and that and get right down to the environmental stuff. So lets get on with it shall we, in a neatly organized fashion.

It rocked:

The metro network.It is only a few years old, but its really really good. Most of the times, it is more convenient than driving because its faster and parking is a pain. My boyfriend arrived a couple of days after me and I decided to try the metro service to pick him up. I was pretty impressed, it was really fast, VERY close to the terminal and no parking (which, at airports, is quite a rip off). The bus network is very good as well, but its not as easy to figure out, and the schedules are less predictable.

The recycling. Recycling is slowly making its way into mainstream culture. Now you have recycling bins in most public places like the airport and metro stations, and it looks like people actually use them. The recycling infrastructure is quite good. I missed the composting bin that I was used to here in Holland, but I think they are working on that too, they already started collection biodegradable waste from large producers. My mom is a very thorough recycler. I got her into it when I was still a pre-teen. I am very proud of her in this matter.

The market. Whereas most of supermarket food in Portugal is imported, the food at the market, where I demonstratively bought vegetables, was very local, most likely organic and dirt cheap. Now I just need to convince ClosetMom to shop there more often.

ClosetFriends. I was very impressed that ClosetFriends have the habit of picking up old batteries, if they see them laying around in the street and depositing them in the appropriate recycling bin. Bravo, ClosetFriends. Something I can learn from you. (insert suggestion for Vanessa here)

It sucked:

ClosetMom refuses to use the metro. Her work involves a lot of driving around the city, including during rush hour. She could totally use the metro at least for some trips, if it wasn’t so much trouble to figure out where the stops are *roll eyes*.

Smog. ClosetMom picked me up from the airport (see above). The first thing I noticed on the drive home, was how smoggy Porto looked. I didn’t remember it being like that last year. The horizon looked yellow, and I’m not exaggerating. Coincidence or not, I got a sore throat about a week later, that quickly developed into a cold. Yes, it could have been just a cold, but I think it was pollution related cold.

Plastic Bags. Man, this country has a plastic bag problem! Even if you buy just one tiny little thing, they stuff it in a bag before you have time to open your mouth. I have to say, unlike in the Netherlands, getting away without a useless bag took considerably more effort. But at some point, I got very good at announcing “No bag, please” as soon as I hand them my purchase.

The receipt holder fad. Now this was annoying. Since last time I was in Portugal, apparel shops developed this new fad. Now instead of just handing you your receipt, now they put it in a nice little cardboard receipt-holder thingy. WTF?? This time, I didn’t manage to develop a defense against this one because I was too perplexed to react, but next time I’ll be prepared. Bastards…

My camera may or may not be broken. It died on me in the middle a shot. I still have hope that it could have been the batteries (even though there was no indication that they were getting low), so now I am dreading the moment of truth, when I change the batteries and realize that I have to do something about the matter. In the mean time, I have no camera, and have already recurred to borrowing from strangers once. (Before, I was using ClosetBoyfriend’s digital to take all those fabulous pictures of my groceries). Now I’m thinking of buying a crappy second hand one to tie things over.

Greatest Accomplishments:

Refusing mom’s well meaning ride offers and getting around quite easily by metro, bus (1x) and walking. Managed to keep use of car to a minimum. Used the metro to go to the beach (thanks, global warming), the airport and city center bunch of times. In almost 2 weeks, used the car 5 times, including 2 trips to the airport and one ride from friends.

Addressed ClosetMom’s bottled water habit. She claims tap water is bad for the kidneys (bullshit) and it tastes bad (tasted just fine to me). Explained how bottled water has less quality and how plastic gives you cancer. Refused to drink bottled water thus proving there is nothing wrong with tap water. Before she used a plastic cup to drink from the water cooler in the office. Now keeps a cup there and explains to co-workers how plastic gives you cancer. They don’t believe her, saying “they wouldn’t deliberately give us all cancer”. So naive…

Got 2 ClosetFriends more interested in vegetarian food, and even got them to try some meatless cooking by themselves. Score. ClosetMom is more resistant to the idea, but I’ll get to her too… eventually.

Resolution of the washing machine ordeal.This one requires a little more background explanation. When I got to Portugal, I was informed that our washing machine was broken and that a new washing machine was scheduled to be delivered the next day. I, of course, was shocked that ClosetMom, despite being broke, ordered a +-500E washing machine, without even trying to fix the old one (age 7, and a very good brand, so technically, its still middle aged in washing machine years). I explained how the washing machine must be a cheap fix, and that ClosetMom was too quick to cough up 500 euros she didn’t have. However, it was already too late. However, it just so happened that ClosetMom was buying the display model and that the delivery guys were dumbasses. Because it was the display model and they were too lazy to pack it up, they were delivering it without any packaging, and then tried to fit it through the building door. Sure enough, when my mom saw her brand new washing machine all banged up around the sides, she knows nothing more than to say “well then, you can take your ~@?$^%*# washing machine and stuff it (…)”. And so, I had ClosetMom call the official repair service and for 50 bucks the thing was good as new. If that ain’t Karma, I don’t know what is. Now, whether this was a good or bad outcome in terms of greenness I don’t know. I really don’t know what they will do with that banged up washing machine. Maybe they’ll fix it. Maybe they’ll sell it. Maybe they’ll just recycle it. All I know is that ClosetMom wasn’t having a banged up washing machine. And I don’t think I would either.

For next time:

Get ClosetMom and ClosetFriends to Bring Their Own Bags when they go shopping. This time I didn’t have time to go shopping with ClosetMom, so the plastic bags issue didn’t “come up”. I’ll get them all next time. MauAUauahahAAHahAHA!!

Get everyone DivaCups for their B’days. I already started psychologically preparing ClosetMom, showing her my Diva, telling her how great it is… I think I’ll get her one for Xmas now. MauAUauahahAAHahAHA!!

Lessons Learned:

  • You must know your enemy and be prepared to strike back. It’s the surprise attacks that screw us over.
  • When trying to get someone to change their ways, people always respond better when you put things in terms of “What’s in it for me”, like “save money” or “NOT get cancer”. I found that “its better for the environment” crap gets you nowhere, so I don’t even go there.
  • It’s not that people are trying to harm the environment, its just that sometimes they don’t know any better. Most of the time, they just don’t know there is a better way. Like ” you don’t HAVE to take bags every time just because they try to give you one”.

And so, even though I didn’t offset my trip (partly because I’m broke, partly because I still haven’t made up my mind on offsetting), I would say that the overall impact of my trip goes a long way towards canceling out the plane rides. Or at least I prefer to think so.

 

 

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October 8, 2007 at 1:55 pm 5 comments

Went to Portugal. But I’m back now.

I know, I know, I’ve been a bad, bad blogger again, didn’t warn my dearest readers I’d be absent for over 2 weeks, shame on me. So that sign is what I should have put up before I left… But I’m guessing you must be used to my irregular posting by now. If you’re not, you better get used to it, because I don’t think it is going to get better any time soon. If you want regularity, you always have my Friday Linkfest feature at Celsias (and even that has been taken on by another writer the last 2 weeks because I was on holiday). But we’re open now!

The month of September is being quite an eventful one, so I’ll just give you a quick update on what’s been going on and what you can expect from The Closet, followed by an account of my time in Portugal, in which I rant about the Environment there and you get extremely jealous of me because Portugal is so much awesome and everything the Spanish, French and Italians can do, we can do, better.

So anyway, my boyfriend is graduating tomorrow, which, unfortunately for me, means he is going back to the US a week from now. Which unfortunately for me, also means that I’m going to be left alone in this @#$@#@$%# country until I finish my !@!#@$%^&* thesis and can get the f#c% outta here. (Fortunately for you, this probably means my posting will become more regular just because I’ll be bored out of my mind). This also means that I can no longer stay in my apartment both for financial and mental sanity reasons. Hence, this week will be quite hectic as we have to move all our stuff to my new room, and BF gets ready to leave the country. I found a room in a hippie-minded student community and will write more about it in due time.

In the meantime, I don’t know if I have mentioned this, but our beloved ClosetCat was only borrowed, as we were taking care of him while his owner was away. So shortly before we went to Portugal, ClosetCat’s true owner returned from exile and we had no choice but to hand over our sweet little kitten to his owner. We miss him already. *sigh*

In other news, I am making contacts with a local environmental activism group, and if all goes well, will work with them on a project for my internship. You will also hear more about this as things develop. Tomorrow, I am taking a break from packing and cleaning to go to a screening of the documentary “Waste=Food” they are organizing.

So I know you must be hanging on the edges of your seats waiting for the follow-up post to my last post, but I’m afraid you will have to hang in there a little longer. Things are going to be a little crazy here for a while, but I will get on it as soon as I can. In the meantime, feel free to browse the archives, or subscribe to the Closet Environmentalist (which you can even get by email now).

But look, I’ve already extended myself more than I intended to, and I didn’t even get to the juicy part of my story: Portugal. So I’ll tell you what. I’m gonna get on writing it today and you can count on it first thing tomorrow. Gotta stretch this out, you know, Kill Bill style 😉

Photo by Leo Reynolds.

September 25, 2007 at 10:11 pm 5 comments


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