. . . isn’t hard to master, Elizabeth Bishop might have written were she considering travel in her famous villanelle, “One Art,” instead of love or life, however you might read the poem. When traveling, you master waiting, or it masters you. When all else fails, waiting is the one thing you can depend on.
Still in Porto, we were going to get an early start into the Douro~
~ the terraced wine region running along the banks of the Douro River respected not only for port production but for their red table wines, or vinho tinto. This time it was only Frank and I, our son to remain happily behind with his girlfriend. There would be one less person to have to wait for at any given time(showers, bathroom, meals, sleep, crankiness, photos). This would simplify the trip. However, we’d just discovered that our GPS was no longer charging. We’d have to replace it. Throughout the trip we’ve often had to search for internet connection, and found cell phones troublesome. At last we secured both and found the number for Eurocar in Porto.
Eurocar’s local office said they’d exchange the faulty unit. Just come on down. But how to locate them without a functioning GPS? Traffic moves madly through twisted narrow streets seemingly in every town or city we’ve visited, and roads are frequently unmarked or simply missing from maps. After circling randomly, we tried the GPS again. With the last sputter of charge, the GPS car bitch as I affectionately call her, sent us through a few turns, told us we’d arrived, and promptly died, Eurocar nowhere in sight. So began a series of attempts (harder, faster) to park legally, inquire of shopkeepers, call Eurocar, search on foot for the illusive address, jiggle the GPS one more time . . .
Two plus hours later we were at last on the road, new car bitch calmly suggesting we turn left or turn right, “recalculating” our driving misconduct without complaint until we reached Pinhão at last, our overnight base. (Pinhão can also be reached by riverfront train or boat from Porto. Great idea for next trip).
...The art of losing isn't hard to master.
We’d lost several hours of the day in an already trimmed down itinerary. We were tired. Though the river drive had been lovely, we were disappointed at the time lost. However, we could now check into our hotel and freshen up; our innkeeper was charming, anything possible. Pinhão, situated at the confluence of two river gorges stepped with terraced vineyards straight up to a cloud scattered sky seemed like another time, another world.
We recalculated. We’d trim to three wineries instead of the several more we’d planned. We’d stay within close proximity to Pinhão instead of a further foray up the Douro. We’d eat at the local restaurant the innkeeper recommended. It was like slipping into the slow lane and letting the world speed by. It was like getting into a boat and floating in the Douro’s current instead of struggling upstream.
...though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
We tasted some terrific wines and a few more ports at Quinta Nova da Nossa, visited two other bodegas, and saw a small-town carnival set up for a weekend festa, strolled the few streets of Pinhao and remarked again at the falling stonework, rusted iron grilles, and most of all the use of azulejos(tile) common all over Portugal, Sevilla too for that matter. This way of being wasn’t too hard to master.
One thing I’m learning on this trip: the art of waiting. First know what you want. Then, recalculate.