Thousands of articles have been written about what to do on the night before your flight — take lots of water, get a good night’s sleep, pack all your luggage to avoid last minute rush — but few have said what happens if you break all these travel rules.
The day I did was not a fortuitous date — Friday,July 13. It was the last day of the ‘Disquiet International’ seminar (held in Lisbon, Portugal) for writers from around the world, the most dangerous of whom is the Icelandic poet Marco Vincenzo.
(You will find out why in a little while).From sunset till 8 pm, we sat in the cavernous interiors of the Lisboa Consortia de Cultura Castle and heard nothing of the reading of a world famous essayist — or maybe we heard too much as every word he said bounced and echoed off the vast empty spaces of this cathedral-like place ... hence, rendering the hearing of anything impossible.Our flight was for the following day, noon, so Marco and I saw nothing wrong in joining fellow writers in the courtyard outside for a farewell cocktail consisting of endless port and wine until midnight.
After all, I reckoned, I could be back at my Living Lounge by 1 am, get a solid six-hours of sleep, pack by 8 am, be done with breakfast by 9 am, and be at the airport a solid two hours before our flight.
But when midnight came and programme director Jeff Parker suggested we ‘dislocate’ the party to ‘Chihuahua at the Barro Alto,’ whom was I to say no — especially with Marco Vincenzo hanging on my left shoulder like the proverbial devil saying, “ Let’s go for it, buddy!”
The Barro Alto turned out to be on ‘Fado Friday’ —‘Fado’ being a current Portuguese fad where fat old men sing sad stuff that sounds like opera. This goes down very well with port and wine. At least until about 3am when all the melodrama and sentimentality becomes overwhelmingly saccharine.
“If you go home to the hotel and get just a couple of hours of shut-eye,” Marco advised, “You will be messed! Better to just stay up straight till morning.” A glance at the drinks in front of me — and he made sense.
We left the nostalgic night at the Chihuahua, and went in search of late night pubs.
But we could only find a ‘Strip-Tease Club’. Anyway, watching semi-nude ladies, most of them from Brasil, squirm around brass poles in their bras is not half as exciting as it sounds — especially when one is now on brandy and the half-shut eye, and I was glad when dawn came and we could finally go.
Alas, Marco insisted we first go to his hotel — ironically called ‘Florida’ — so he could pack, then we had a light breakfast — Heineken.