Tuesday, 6 April 2010


Something I have already learnt about travelling is that when people offer you something, it is usually best to say yes. Whether it be to the person who picks you up when you are hitch-hiking and invites you to have Christmas dinner with his family, or to your friend's offer to be the 'friend of a friend' at her boyfriend's family Easter lunch. I did say yes to both of these things, and they both turned out to be memorable occasions (the Christmas dinner because I actually ate a solid, home-cooked meal, a rarity to be treasured when you are a poor traveller, but the Easter lunch for other reasons).
I spent the Easter weekend with a friend from Mexico so aswell as another opportunity to be the Australian ring-in at a family lunch on Easter Sunday, I got to learn how to make some traditional Mexican food, which will surely impress upon my return to the great southern land. She taught me to make Mole, with tostadas, chicken in sauce and pickled onions, and Capirotada, a traditional Mexican Easter cake (which we stumbled through with no quantities, very little direction and a lot of guessing...although the end result was a hit at the family lunch, much to her delight).
And then on Sunday I experienced Easter Sunday Portuguese style; lots and lots of family, lots and lots of laughing and lots and lots of food (and a bit of singing too). It can be a daunting thing walking into a large family event as basically a total stranger, but Canadian and European hopsitality combined is a lethal combination, and I was being offered food and drinks until, I am embarrassed to admit, I had loosen my belt a little. Oh dear.
There was much good food and, although this was a rare catch-up for a lot of the family, much effort at making me feel comfortable and at home. When I mentioned I was Australian, one of the old aunts exclaimed in excitement that she had 'never met anyone from Austria before!', then after a little giggle somebody corrected her and she exclaimed in excitement that she had 'never met anyone from Australia before either!', before she regaled us with anecdotes about the patients at the nursing home where she works. Another old uncle told me about the island off Portugal which is his home, 'heaven' he called it and he spoke so fondly about the beauty and seclusion that I have now made it my mission to visit it. And yet another lovely, old, white-haired man told me, with a cheeky grin and sparkling eyes, that one of his most vivid memories of being in WW11 was needing to piss really badly but not wanting to do it in front of the hundreds of surrounding soldiers; while his wife educated me in the correct way to flip somebody the bird. Hilariously lovely couple.
And a lovely, warm, generous family. One of my most memorable Pascuas for sure. Don't be scared, say yes!

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