In Portugal, after you purchase anything, they ask you for your tax number. They call it the NIF. It is a nine digit number and apparently by using it to buy groceries and things, it will eventually lead to you getting some money back from the government. I don’t really understand it, but that is what I am told.
I memorized this number pretty quickly and I repeat it, when prompted, in Portuguese. On the other hand, my priest struggles endless with saying his number in Portuguese. His has a lot of repeated numbers, so you would think it would be simple. When he opens his mouth, his Portuguese is so brutal that the clerks can’t focus. They look at him blankly. Some chuckle. Some shake their heads. Some make him repeat the number very slowly.
Today was my favorite moment yet, because the clerk was so amused he couldn’t stop full on laughing; like belly laughter. Then he said that my priest shouldn’t attempt the numbers again in Portuguese….English only. I am always so embarrassed when my priest gives his tax number, because he butchers Portuguese, but he insists on practicing. Finally, this clerk confirmed what I have been telling my priest for over a year. Give it up dude! Portuguese is not his jam and although he provides the natives with great comedy, almost everyone speaks English and they do so a hell of a lot better than he speaks Portuguese.
I sincerely hope he got the message. Keep you posted.
I have traveled through Europe many times. I have done it alone, with friends, with my husband and now with my kids. It used to be about seeing museums and hitting as many sites as possible. Now, we traveler slower. We seek out parks and playgrounds. The kids manage to sniff out spots to get dirty and wet in every country.
These park stops have become the joy of my vacations. I never thought I would revel in sitting under a tree watching my girls play when there was so much to see. In these park stops, I have the chance to see European kids and families and I realize how very different we Americans and Canadians are with our kids. There is very little micro managing. The parents hang back, drink coffee in nearby cafes and just enjoy watching their kids. The kids, on the other hand, are free. Maggie observed that when they get hurt, the European kids, tend to really exaggerate. I told her just like football (soccer) players do…they learn by example. The parents don’t fuss even when the kids are whaling. They do the equivalent of “suck it up buttercup.” The kids run off and continue to play. The parks here are not as safe as at home. They have challenging and sometimes scaring equipment, but no one seems to worry. That is a real challenge for me, but I am learning.
No one seems in a rush. Parents are not on their phones. They are actually watching their kids from a distance and often enjoying the company of other parents and grandparents. Family is still vital and appreciated. They might be thinking about grocery shopping or chores, but you wouldn’t know it. They seem in the moment. Dads and moms are hanging together. It isn’t a spot, like many of my local parks in the US, where I only see moms and I only see them on their phones. These European parks made me realize I want to live like this. Enjoying the park, the sun and my family. The time will come when going to the park is no longer cool and until that day…I will try to live like the Europeans. Plus, they kiss a lot, not just their kids, but everyone, and I like that too.