Wanderlino Arruda
Djalma Souto


Lisbon and the Brazilians

When Wladenia turns eighteen she is able to vote, goes to driving school and is simply ecstatic with the fact that she is finally an adult. Her happiness, which is also mine and her mother’s, has, in me, an additional effect: a feeling of missing Lisbon and other good memories of the trip I made to Portugal with Antonio Ramos, Dona Flora, Dulce Sarmento, Joaquim Correia and Jose Almeida. It’s that, when we made that trip, in l966, Wladenia had just been born, and being the first female child to be born in our family, she was bringing such joy to our home, that Olimpia wasn’t feeling the least desire to travel. She preferred to stay at home and take advantage of her sweet newborn baby. If I wanted to go, I would have to go by myself. Now, eighteen years later, this trip comes back to me in waves of wonderful memories.

The eighteen-hour flight was aboard a four propeller Constellation. At Recife, where we had to make a connection, we met Fina and Dr. Hermes and later at Salt Island, nearing the western coast of Africa, we met some other Brazilians. Upon arriving in Lisbon, in the late afternoon we leave the plane, receiving the smart slap of the cold early Spring breeze. On leaving the airplane, the entire Brazilian caravan of the Elos Club joins together on the runway for the usual group arrival photograph, with smiles on all faces and warm welcomes from the Portuguese people, friends and brothers. Shortly after, we were conducted through the customary hubbub and noise of the international lounges and the customs department of the Portela de Sacavem, the most geographically occidental airport of the old world. More pictures, more hugs, more welcomes…and we’re on the way to downtown Lisbon, the taxis glide through modern neighborhoods such as Moscavide and along spectacular avenues like the Liberdade and Brazil avenues. We also pass by elegant squares like the square of the Teatro, the Alegria, the Rocio, and the Terreiro do Paço, and through streets like the Ouro and Prata streets. In the distance, the sentimental sight of the river Tejo, the medieval fortress of São João, the Largo do Comercio, the Ladeira do Chiado and the Alfama. When the driver passes near the illuminated fountains and restaurants, he shows us a statue of the emperor Dom Pedro, and proudly states: There is our illustrious Dom Pedro IV, your Dom Pedro I, really one of the greatest heroes of Portuguese History.

Dona Flora and Antonio Ramos have seen these pleasantries time and time again, frequent visitors that they are. Jose Almeida, from the north, had only passed through Lisbon once on his way to Brazil. Our friend J.F. Rodrigues Correia had studied in Coimbra as a child and had been away for forty years. Dulce Sarmento and I were thrilled with the beauty of the city for the first time. No one can imagine what a sweet and delicious sensation it is to set foot in the motherland, feel there our people’s creed, our cradle, the origin of the majority of our traditions, a place that is anything…except foreign. And, how well we Brazilians are received in Portugal, in Lisbon, In Santarem, in Belmont, in Porto, anywhere!

That night, my first walk… strolling about that enchanting world of wonders, of the Metro, the Praca da Alegria, of Se, of the cafes do Chiado, the Subida das Ladeiras, our curious window shopping at goldsmiths and other superb shops. We visited glorious illuminated fountains of all colors and all sounds, more beautiful than anywhere else in the world. Through those historical streets and squares had also one day passed Eca do Queros, Alexandre Herculano, Antero de Quental, Florbela Espanca…and Fernando Pessoa! Along those ways had also passed our most famous Brazilian, our cherished, always revered Juscelino Kubtschek. He was so honored there that when he arrived anywhere, be it the theater, cinemas or cafés, everyone demonstrated respect and friendship.

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