Friday, March 15, 2013

When I was younger.....

I often think about things I did, places I went, people I've met throughout my life.

There seem to be moments in our journey that are poignant and etched into our memories.  Those moments which we tend to remember forever and when we nudge our memory, they flood right back to the point where you remember the clothes you wore, where you lived and what you were doing.

I was just thinking about one of those moments and I thought I would share it with you this morning.  I hope you have some coffee on hand, I'm about to tell you a story and take you back in time........

Back in 1988, when I was 14 years old, my father got a job offer in Portugal.  We had lived in Portugal before, matter of fact we had just moved to South Africa 4 years prior.  It was a big decision for my family, but my parents really believed that it was the best thing for us all, and so, we packed up a whole house including our pug at the time, and flew thousands of miles to our new home.

Source:  Agua Aberta

Sao Joao do Estoril.  That is where we moved to.


I vividly remember the main road that wound up the hill and how we then turned right into our street. 

This small tight street with beautiful colorful Portuguese houses on the left, and apartment buildings on the right.  We lived in an apartment building, on the second floor.

It was quite the adventure, our floor was the one with the veranda, so we could step outside through the kitchen door and look at the ocean just down the street.

My stepmom would get so frustrated though because right above us live an older couple from India and their 20 something son.  They were very sweet, and the families quickly became friends, but the mom would sometimes cut the son's hair right at their window and then brush it all out, where it would land right on our veranda LOL

I spent many moments on this veranda, listening to Belinda Carlisle's album "Heaven is a Place on Earth".  I had my walkman on and I would sit and watch life go by.  People walking up and down the streets, cars on the road and boats in the water. 

I remember that we moved in during the summer, a few months before school started.  The idea of going to a new school made me nervous, I didn't know anyone, I had just spent 4 years in South Africa in a completely different school system and I had an impending entry exam to do so they could determine which year I was in.  I cringed at the thought, I kept thinking "but what if the schooling I did in South Africa was behind where they are now, what if I have to repeat another year?".

And then the time came to register for school.  The elementary school I thought I would be in was just down the street from our home and I felt better knowing that I wouldn't be too far.  We went in to register only to find out that I would not be in that area, but in another district a train ride away.  I would have to get up earlier and take the train by myself.  It terrified me.

This is the train station I would have been departing from.  I honestly can't even imagine putting my 13 year old daughter on a train by herself, but back in those days, no one thought anything of it.

I still remember when I was 6 years old in school in Portugal, I had afternoon school so I would go in at 1pm and school would be out at 6pm.  During the winter it was already dark outside.  I would then walk down to the bus station, get on the bus and ride 20 minutes away from home.  Alone.


But anyway, getting back to my story. 

Our parents worked in Lisbon, so their commute was crazy, they would leave early in the morning and not return until about 8pm each night.  The housework, the cooking, the shopping, buying fresh bread everyday etc....fell on me.  It was my responsibility and I guess I could have resented it, but from an early age being a housewife was something I wanted to do more than anything, so I took on that job and did it to the best of my ability.

I was home alone with 3 brothers.  Two older and one younger.  We were pretty responsible kids so our parents never worried about leaving us alone all day.

Every morning, I would get up, get dressed, and while the boys slept I would take a walk down the street to the Padaria "Bakery".

Source:  Trip Advisor

Oh the aroma of fresh bread and cakes, it was almost intoxicating.  I used to watch in awe, wondering what every single loaf would taste like.  I would pick up 12 bread rolls,

Source:  Flickr

and 1 big artisan loaf, which we would use for lunch.   Since there were 4 of us, we would each get a corner.

Source:  Post crossing

We would then either stay home and play games on the Commodore 64, or we would pack a quick snack and walk down to the beach.  We loved going to the beach.

Praia da Poca....that's the one we went to the most.  It wasn't very big, and at times it would get quite crowded, but we really loved being there.  And funny thing is that neither of us 4 can swim LOL

The thing I most remember about the time at the beach was the man walking up and down yelling out "ice cream".  That and the smell of the carrot suntan lotion that they would sell nearby.  That thing was amazing, you would smear it on your body and within an hour you were dark brown.

Source:  smallfashionvictim

Good times!

Even though 6 months later things didn't work out, and we ended up packing up yet again, and moving back to South Africa......those 6 months spent in Estoril had a big impact on my life.

I think I'll always look back on those days with joy.

And when I look at my children I often think how different things are.  What I was doing at their age, where I was going and how there's no way on earth I would be comfortable letting them do the same.

But, different time, different place right?

Do you often think about your younger years?  And do you share those memories with your children?

My children love hearing my stories, they always ask me if I remember where I was or what I was doing at a certain age and then they sit and laugh and revel and learn as they listen.  Love that :)

I think next Friday I will tell you about when we first got to Portugal in the 70's and the place we lived in in Lisbon.  Boy do I have stories and memories from that one :)


  1. Sandra- I absolutely loved this post! So fun to read about that time in your life. It was a totally different world! Can't wait to hear the next adventure :)

  2. This post is making me so excited for our trip to Portugal that's coming up soon! :)

  3. I loved reading this post, what fantastic memories! Thank you for sharing! x

  4. Loving your memories. I can't wait for the next installment.

  5. It was a blessing to read that. I could almost see and hear and taste what you were writing about!

  6. I love this post. It's so neat to hear about a different time and place that is so different from here and now. I love your stories and would love to read many more about your past.

  7. Sandra, I really enjoy your blog. You energize me! Thank you for sharing these very interesting memories of your past. What fascinating places you have lived!

  8. what a great post, nice and loved the pics too...

  9. what a privilege to have grown up experiencing so many cultures !! I think about my parents putting me on an airplane every summer and sending me away across the ocean - from America to German - to visit my grandparents and biological father!! I'd NEVER do that now. I too took the bus, trams, and train all over Frankfurt as a kid ... or rode my bicycle ... and always came home fine. It was definitely different times!!!
    Thanks for sharing your memories! The beach and area (and BREAD!) look lovely!

  10. Yes, please tell us more stories, that was so much fun. You made me think of my younger years in Portugal, and the fresh bread everyday! What a wonderful, simple luxury! Ai que saudade :)


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