In Porto a week now. The effervescent sounds of the cafe terrace just beneath our balcony. Us three, in underwear and diaper, loquat juice sticky on skin. What could be more luxurious?
Does the city seem quiet because it moves slowly, as a record played on a slow speed? A slowness that glazes happy city sounds into a gentle babbling. For P, a slowness that suits: slow play for a man who takes his sweet time. Who glides right into the current of the city like a body surfer taking the first wave all the way to shore.
Buskers in the streets: an accordionist with extensive, beaded dreads; a fellow with foot cymbals keeping beat for a Tom Waits impersonator, a snow-white terrier beside them, staring straight ahead.
A slow-play mood even in the crowded bakeries where pasteis de nata are being flung into paper sacks and euro coins slapped down onto glass counters. In the seagulls’ calls overhead, the laughter and silverware of cafe terraces, scooters taking hills, a large dog’s bark in the distance.
O leads us by the hand into doorways at her whim. A parfumerie, a luthier, an elderly woman’s private hallway, a 1960s-built shopping arcade with a staged cafeteria decked out in turquoise and yellow mid-century modern cafe tables and couches as though time here stood still.
On an evening walk in the gardens of the Palacio de Cristal, we came upon male peacocks variously dancing, flirting and fighting. When one cock spat got particularly nasty less than ten feet away from us, O watched but was fairly nonplussed. Minutes later, she squealed and ran, rapturous, after a small blue candy, “Ball! Ball! Ball!” she shouted, giving it a swift kick.
One of our projects is to present O with as many new flavors as possible. This week: loquats, unusual, mild oranges resembling mandarins but so dense they can be cut with a butter knife without spilling a drop of juice, fried fava beans, codfish fritters, slices of a creamy and very salty white cheese, and, well…chocolate soy milk. She’s refused sardines, or is simply reserving this pleasure for future Portuguese days.