After checking all available transportation routes, I mapped out the best route to my destination and hoped that I wouldn’t take any wrong turns or turn offs.
Grabbing my weekend bag and my cellphone, I set off on my journey and went to wait for my bus on Avenida da Liberdade.
That’s when it happened for the first time that day.
A Brazilian gentleman asked me if the next bus would get him to Baixa do Chiado. I smiled and cleared his doubts telling him that I was going in the same direction.
Once I was on the bus, I let the gentlemen have the only open seat and went to middle where I could stand next to the window.
As I looked out at Campo Pequeno, three ladies oohed and aahed in the same direction as I was staring at.
I gave them my sweetest smile as I realized by their accent that the ladies were American tourists. It was the all the opening they needed to begin asking me questions.
After giving them the few facts that I knew about the city, they surprised me by complimenting me as an efficient tour guide. I let them know they were in the wrong bus to their desired destination but suggested they change their route to a visit to Alfama considering that they were looking to get a more soulful experience of the city.
I smiled to the Brazilian gentleman who got off in front of the Praça Dom Pedro and then directed the three American ladies to Electric that would take them to Alfama from Praça do Comércio.
Doing my good deeds for the day I smiled as I made my way to the train station in Cais do Sodré. Whilst buying my ticket, I was startled by a tug in the arm and panicked… until I realized that it wasn’t a mugger and instead a skinny teenager who looked anything by threatening.
Looking insecure and lost she asked me which train would go to Cascais, I smiled and told her that I was headed in the same direction and pointed at the third line. Grateful, she smiled back at me and followed me into the train, taking her seat beside me.
As the train began moving, I began pondering about my role as guide and was shocked when a lady jumped quickly on board in Algés and asked me if this train was to pass through Carcavelos. Shaking off the amusement that once again I had been picked as the guide, I double checked the route above the door and nodded with a smile.
I was rewarded with my fourth smile of gratitude (sixth if you consider that there were three American ladies)
I sighed as I looked out the window and stared at the reflexes that the afternoon sun had on the Tejo River. It occurred me with a certain amount of relieve that I’m not the only one who’s lost in Lisbon and that everyone is on their way somewhere. I spent the rest of the journey imagining the destination of the rest of the passengers.
Were they going to work?
Were they going home?
Perhaps they were going to visit a sick friend… or meeting the love of their lives!... one thing was for sure… most of them were going to be in front of a television watching the soccer game between Portugal and Netherlands within the following half hour!
Getting off the train, I wasn’t expecting anymore guide requests but as I made my way towards the exit I froze with disbelief when once again I was grabbed by the arm. A good looking guy with glasses that gave him an intelligent and sexy look flashed a mouthful of pearly whites and asked me if I knew where he could grab a cab.
How should I know?!
I bit my bottom lip and turned on my heel until I saw the yellow machine that was paid to take you anywhere and then spotted the nearest exit towards it. Just as he was about to leave, I couldn’t resist asking him why he’d picked me to ask for directions.
He just shrugged his shoulders and told me that I looked like someone who knew where she was going.
I laughed at the irony of his answer especially when I realized that I’d gotten off on the wrong side of the terminal.
We don´t always know where we´re going or where we´re headed and yet there are those that believe in us; that have faith in our sense of direction and trust us to point out the way.