Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente / Camarão que adormece, ele carrega la corrente / A shrimp that sleeps, is carried by the sea
In Porto, my friend Lainey taught my squeamish hands to rip off the head of a shrimp and to unravel its armor from its twiggy legs.
Porto seemed precarious and graceful grounded on hills with buildings stacked over and on top of themselves. Many were lemony or mustard yellows, with sea green doors, porcelain blue tiles, and red or brick orange roofs. The Duoro runs through Porto like a vein, once cradling the boats that shipped Port wine to sea. The sea is not visible from town but her seagulls are vigilant companions, circling church bell towers at sundown. We were told that to be shit on by a seagull was a proper Porto baptism.
Portugal taught me to fall in love with color; color as a visual language of a space, the curation of light and emotion. Every city has a distinct color pallet and what those colors say about the city is like getting an intimate tour of the town’s history. In Portugal, the colors were lively and vibrant. Vibrant, but not abrasive, it was as though her cities were alive in a way that other cities had decided to lay dormant in their grays and beiges. Shrimpy pinks with sea greens, mustard yellows with brick oranges, lavenders and cerulean blues, all in conversation with one another, all waking the other up.
At first glance, I had the impression that Lisbon was the sort of pirate town that you would read about in books, but I quickly realized that Lisbon was much too big and classic to be a pirate town. She is grandiose without being presumptuous. We spent our time in Lisbon wandering around, pretending to be flâneurs in search of little bookshops where we could pick up a book by one of two of the only Portuguese authors we knew, Pessoa and Saramago. The air felt thick with stories and myths like the city was trying to speak to you through the moaning of her architecture. So often I would find myself totally enchanted, as though the magic that I assumed had long worn off in other parts of Europe was still alive and well in Portugal.