Grey hour of his Sorrow
Do not feel so heavy, Cross
On the long road of Mishap
I so understand the Fate
Da hora cinzenta da sua Amargura
Nao sente a cruz tao Pesada
Na longa estrada da Desventura
Eu so entendo o Fado
-excerpt from the 'Fado Lisboeta'
Ruth and I met David our first night in Foz. We stopped in the Restaurante Central on the main road for a bite to eat. There was no time to stop for groceries and we were hungry.
We arrived at that odd time in Portugal when food is not being cooked because the lunch rush is over and dinner has not yet begun. David must have seen some desperation in us and worked out the baking of a pizza.
Since that first night we have frequented Central and David has always greeted us with a smile and pleasant conversation. He likes to test our Portuguese but doesn’t force us to suffer our own ignorance too long. As one of our first friends in Portugal we had to get to know more about him so we sat down with him to chat.
David was born in Canada, but he has lived in Portugal most of his life. We wanted to understand a little of his perspective of Portugal, as both an insider and an outsider, so we began by asking him what it means to be Portuguese.
David- 'It’s tough. It can be rough. Things are slow in Portugal. My friends and family and everyone is trying to emigrate. We mostly sit down and wait for things to happen. Being Portuguese is alright, we have everything so we don’t care. There are the mountains and the forests, the beach and the ocean. There’s history and museums and tourism but the people are suffering right now.
It’s our destiny. That’s why we sing the Fado. It means, ‘destiny’ it’s a sad song- it’s our destiny. Portuguese are used to suffering. We just let life happen. Bad things are shown in the news and we ignore it.'
David and his brother own and manage Restaurante Central in Foz do Arelho. We asked him why he chooses to live in Foz.
David- 'My parents were born in Foz. My mother moved to the States and my father moved to Canada. They got married and moved to Canada together. That’s where I was born. I am Canadian. We moved to New York where my brother was born and after a while we came back to Foz.
I was too young to know that I wanted to stay in the States, but Foz is where I met my wife. We were neighbors and started dating, I was 16 and she, Cristina was 15. Ten years later we got married. Foz is home.'
If you’re going to visit Foz do Arelho, or anywhere in Portugal, it’s a good idea to know a little of the language. We asked David what words or phrases he recommended people learn before traveling to Portugal.
David- 'The basics. When you are traveling anywhere you should know several key phrases. In Portugúes specifically ‘Bom dia,’ ‘Obrigado,’ ‘Se faz favor/Por favor’ - Good day, Thank you, Please. Greeting people in their own language opens the door for conversation. '
Then we got a little more personal with our questions, moving from Portugal, to Foz to David and his family. The answer to our question “What was the best or most important day of your life” wasn’t too surprising. Even in our short interactions with David it has been obvious that he cares for his family.
David- 'There are two days. Both are when my daughters were born, Luísa and Adriana. There will be many special moments but none greater than when they were born. And of course every day with my beautiful wife Cristina.'
We’ve had our own impressions of David, but we wanted to know what he wanted people to think of him. (We think he’s pretty cool.)
David- 'I think often times people meet me and think that I am rude. I seem a bit frank or stand off-ish. I don’t want people to have that impression of me. It takes a little while for me to warm up to people. I’m a normal guy, I like to joke. There’s nothing special.'
Ruth had one more quick question for David before we wrapped things up. The past month and a half we’ve watched people kite surfing, wind surfing and just plain ‘ol surfing on the lagoon and ocean nearly every day. We finished by asking David if he surfed. (It seems hard not to if you grew up here in Foz!)
David- 'I’m too old for that shit! I have a bad knee now but I used to surf. I would run and play games and now I am looking to get a bike. A mountain bike would be great to lose a few kilos.'
If you’re ever in Foz do Arelho or just in the area, take a little bit of time to stop by Restaurante Central. Grab a coffee and a pastry, or beer and a pizza or maybe all of the above. Watch a game or sit down at the bar for a quick chat with David. We promise it will be worth your time.