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SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 24 Aug 2000 09:28:01 -0400
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Without some of the worst parts of the Portugal experience I would have
missed some of my favorite, treasured memories. Whether you think of
"Trains,Planes, and Cars" or "Candide" it would echo my experience of the
conference. To zip ahead, after 2 days without sleep and several other major
and minor inconveniences getting to Lisbon, we found ourselves, unencumbered
by luggage,  dashing to catch the last ferry across the Tejo to catch the
last train from Lisbon to Evora. That we caught the right ferry out of a
choice of 4) was pure luck. That train station at midnight looked evil but
felt safe, but I decided to chat with the stationmaster as an added
precaution. At one point he turned to Ramona, my travel mate, and asked where
she was from. "United States." He gleefully replied, "Monica Linsky! Monica
Linsky!"   We shared the first part of the train ride with a group of
backpackers, some American, in a standard commuter style car. The first class
car was made of private compartments and I wished we had thought to buy first
class tickets so we could close the door and wait for the Gestapo Officer to
knock and demand our passports while we successfully hid the secret that we
were carrying messages for the Resistance. (hey, it's midnight, remember)
The last part of the ride we were alone in a wooden train that I guess was
between WWI and WWII vintage, a bouncing, joggling, cranking, groaning uphill
ride that kept us wide awake and well exercised. Evora was shut tight at 2:30
am when we arrived. The stationmaster said we could wait for dawn in the
waiting room so we spent about an hour looking at the beautifully blue-tiled
walls. At about 4 am we decided to walk to the university and asked the
stationmaster for directions. He told us "up," just walk uphill and you will
get there. Walking through a medieval town in darkness, with no people or
cars moving, with the unique smells of the walls was a profound experience.
We met one policeman who repeated the advice to keep walking uphill. We came
out of one street and there was the Roman temple ruin looking down on us. By
then there was the first indication of light and the silhouette was awesome.
We reached the university and sat down on the steps to wait. We were on top
of the city and watched the silhouettes turn to shapes as the sky turned blue
and we watched the bats coming home. The university gates were not open so we
decided to find a cafe for a cup of coffee. We found a cafe-bar where the
workers, at 7 am were drinking what looked like shots of liquor, and I
ordered two coffees. I had not yet mastered the various names of the many
kinds of coffee one can order and Senhora behind the bar was insisting on
specifics. We left and on the way back to the university I thought I saw Dick
Rauh dash by. We returned to the university to sit on the steps. It seemed
years later than a Senhora opened the huge wooden door and to our questions
she responded that she didn't know anything about any illustrators, that her
job was to unlock doors. By 9:30 we found the GNSI reception room open and I
poured out my fatigue and frustration on sympathetic ears. We went to our
room,  and refreshed with showers (hey, hot water on demand in Europe!) and a
nap, and went back to the university to enjoy one of the best lunches I have
ever had.  So that was my first day in Portugal.  Joan