Scene One

Portugal from above is aggressively mountainous and stubbornly green. Aside from jagged scissor lines of roads, the human parasite has made little progress in shaping the land to service. Like terracotta beads, tiny villages are strung along rivers and roads, lacing the valley. In window seat 29F, I sip a white wine as verdant and untamable as the land that made it. I relish the luxury of the unexpected: complimentary vino and an unconquered earthscape.

As the steward ushers me off the plane, I smile at him and speak my first word on Portuguese soil: Obrigado. Thank you, Portugal, for staging the first scene of my adventure.

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