In the middle of a pedestrian, bar-lined street in Lisbon, Ali and I had a 30-minute conversation with a couple of guys who were convinced I was Portuguese. "But I don't even speak the language!" I insisted. "You're just messing with us," they theorized.
In a jumbled blend of Spanish and Portuguese (Spantuguese?), we talked to the boys about economics, American politics, and how they were entirely too young for us. They disagreed on all counts. Suddenly, a fight broke out, the police arrived, and Ali and I bolted and hopped in a cab.
“Do I look Portuguese?” I asked the cab driver. He glanced at his rearview mirror and answered, “Yeah, you look just like my daughter, actually.” (Note: This conversation took place in Spantuguese.)
“Mel, it’s like you belong here!” said Ali. I’d been adopted by Portugal! I guess this means I should stop speaking Spantuguese and learn the proper language, so I’ve taken up Portuguese lessons in Miami.
Rewind: Earlier in the evening, we popped into a bar hoping to party with some locals. Instead, we met an Australian, a Canadian, and a guy from Wisconsin. Wisconsin Guy was living in Spain, and inexplicably everybody spoke German. After a few drinks, it was hard to tell what country I was in anymore. When Wisconsin Guy casually asked us which hostel we were staying at, it dawned on us that everyone in this international German-speaking group was under 25 and assumed we were, too.
At their age, I was living abroad and staying in hostels all over Europe. Now I’m nearly 30, have a “real” job, and have to accrue my PTO days to go anywhere. It can be nice to feel like a stable adult, but sometimes I want to give it all up and teach English in China or something. Well, at least for that one night in Lisbon, I was 24 and Portuguese.