What I learned in Faro: The Kindness of Strangers and Peace
I have never, not in my whole life of (admittedly very limited) travels been somewhere as sleepy, gentle and, most notably, peaceful as Faro in my life. Faro has been my first stop in Portugal before I trek around the coast up to Lisbon and Porto (via some shiny beaches, of course) and initially, I wasn’t too sure if I really wanted to come here.
There is next to no tourist influence on this city, even though I have still only met one person in two days who actually speaks Portugese. A few guided tour officials roaming about the place trying to sell boat tours to the beach in the vastest multitude of languages I’ve ever seen before, but that’s really it.
I chose to come and spend two days here because I really wanted to relax somewhere and get my head put on straight. The last few weeks for me have been very tumultous and confusing, a lot of things have changed in a very small period of time for me since Madrid. I guess that”s what we travel for, to help find ourselves somewhere that we are completely lost.
The first thing I learned in Faro actually began at Gatwick Airport, at 1am, trying to find the shuttle from the South terminal to the North terminal. I became wildly lost in what I can only imagine was the staff carpark, looking for this terminal. I met a French girl who was also flying out to Faro. We chatted a little bit, she was a very sweet girl. We finally found our way there in the end and we sat out the front of the airport for about four hours, just chain smoking cigaretes.
We talked about travelling to learn (she was living in London to improve her English so she could work as a stewardess), crazy and intolerant people in the world and some absolute rubbish. But if you talk with a stranger for four straight hours in the freezing cold with nothing but a few packs of cigarettes, some rubbish is bound to come up. She offered me cake and coke (the drink!) and it was nice.
We got to Faro and her parents were picking her up from the airport. I was terribly confused, I had no idea how to get to the hostel from the airport (there were no signs for buses or trains or anything else of the matter). I met her parents, they didn’t speak a word of English but they were very sweet and bought me orange juice. Then, they drove me to my hostel.
Faith in humanity: very much restored.
Then, after a good nine hours of wandering the terribly beautiful and wonderfully boring streets of Faro, I came back to the hostel and met the owners. We went out to have a look at buying a guitar for the hostel, then for some dinner and wine. Today, they took me for sandwiches and coffee. They are a wonderfully sweet couple and outrageously hospitable. I don’t have any other word to describe how hospitable they are except outrageous, they’ve taken great care of me in the last two days, even offering to help me find gigs in Faro.
Mixed about with a few people in the hostel who have been very generous with their wine and cigarettes, I learned my first lesson of Faro: the kindness of strangers is truly limitless, as long as you show the same kindness back. Without these people I had never met before in my life, I would have had the most miserable two days here. I mean yeah-the sunshine is beautiful but it can only cure so much loneliness in a man. Never again will I take for granted how good people can be. This city has made cynicism seem like a joke.
The next thing I learned was on my very, very long walk through a very, very small town. I had nothing with me, barre a bottle of water and a packet of cigarettes. Nothing but me, a seaside landscape, the sun beating down and my thoughts. It was incredibly peaceful.
There is no way to be in this town, I feel, and to not be instilled with a great sense of peace about the world. Yeah, there’s good. Yeah, there’s bad. But here in Faro, there’s just peace everywhere.
So I soaked it in, and I began to come to peace with something. Now, these little black bubbles of spiritual disconcertion that have been hanging over me have not been come to peace with. But, I became at peace with the fact that I have to face up to them and ‘pop’ these problems. To me, I think accepting and preparing yourself to deal with your problems is as important as dealing with them in itself.
So, I have come to peace with the fact that I have to make peace. And I’m ready to do that now. What’s that, remnant teenage angst of an immature 21 year old? You wanna fight?
Bring it on bro. I’m ready for ya.