The Pumphouse

Greetings and good evening from Lisbon, Portugal. Capital of this funny little country my family hails from. People park on the sidewalk, dogs poop everywhere, random construction projects are everywhere; this is Lisbon as I know and love it. Cept that cars on the sidewalk, thats just annoying. Oh wait.. lots of things are charming to some while annoying to others, nevermind.

what I wanted to tell you on this my first of five days in Portugal is about my friend Elsa and the pub she works at – the pumphouse. Anyone who’s ever come to visit me in Lisbon has certainly been to the pumphouse. It is THE bar for me in Lisbon. It is where Mr. and I used to play chess on our days away from teaching the good people English. And it is ALWAYS my first stop when I get into town, just like today – I go there directly from the airport.

But I never go at night. This because I don’t go to the pumphouse just cause I like their ice tea and Liverpool loving owner. Não. I go to see someone who is basically one of my oldest “family” members in this city. I’ve been coming here for years, since I was 17, each summer I’d stay right here in this apartment and take classes at university. And every single one of those summers you could find me, a few times per week, sitting in the pumphouse talking to Elsa. I always walk in and give her kisses and sit next to her and ask about her son, and then we talk about Amsterdam, and then she talks of travelling and projects that she hasn’t got off the ground yet. She’s a beautiful woman, so usually I fade into the background as the usual guys walk in and start talking up a storm with her. I give her kisses and head up here to my nest… thats the tradition.

I was thinking about how its been 4 years since I lived and worked right here. And then I started thinking its been double that long that I’ve known Elsa. On my way out of the pub this afternoon, as we said goodbye, I paused and said to her “it’s always good to see you, you’ll my family in this city, you know that?” Busy with costumers and probably more important things on her mind, she smiled and said “I know.”

Oh and I think I saw George H Bush today being led away from the presidential innaugeration by motorcade. You just can’t slow down those ex-presidents, they’re everywhere!