Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"My fado, my fate, my destiny"

We glide through the streets of Lisbon in the Diplomat’s BMW. In the past few days, he has regaled us with Tina Turner and Cat Stevens. But, tonight, our last night in Lisbon, he plays fado. Empty yellow trams rattle by and there’s something dreamy about the loneliness of the trams and the warble of the fado singer.

At Senhor Vinho, the young fadista sings with her eyes closed, clutching her black shawl. Her raw, powerful voice echoes in the low ceilinged room; the white port is sweet and slips down easily. The table is suddenly covered with small plates of cheese, fried cod, ham, and partridge with pineapple slices. The Diplomat translates bits of lyrics: “I want to be the wind, I want be the moon.” 

How incredibly romantic. But I never had a moment’s doubt that there is passion in the soul of Lisbon. Its citizens live proudly and fiercely: They will shove you out of line to be the first to get hot and flaky pasteis at Antiga Confeitaria; they will rhapsodize about Lisbon’s fado tradition, the gleaming Lapa Palace hotel, or the chic seaside getaway Cascais, just a short drive away.

And, as the Diplomat tells us, they love passionately too: “The sweet is not only in our coffee and our cake, but also in our heart.” Fitting words for a last evening in Lisboa, an utterly enchanting city.

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