At every turn in Portugal we were met with kindness, friendliness, and generosity. Here's one little story of it :
My last afternoon in Lisbon, I met a man named Sergio with only a few teeth. He’s always lived in Afalma, in Lisboa. We were sitting in the shade looking out over the water when a pinecone fell – thwack – onto the cobblestones between us.
He spoke to me in Portuguese as he went to pick it up. I looked at him and at the pine tree, twisty and sinuous unlike the pencil straight pines I knew growing up.
He brought his treasure next to me and with rough fingers began to pull apart the prickly cone, plucking brown stones from its womb. With a rock he cracked open one of the little stones, offering me the soft whiteness inside – a pine nut.
When I sat beside a cone’s worth of nuts, he told me his name and asked me mine.
“Ah. Maria,” he said, “Maria.”
Depending on the kindness of strangers,