Contrary to popular belief, Madrid is not the closest capital to Lisbon, instead it’s Rabat, Morocco. In fact, it seems that Portugal has more in common with North Africa than it does with Europe. Granted, cities in southern Europe do have a different feel to them than those in the north, and they are certainly different from those in Eastern Europe, yet one does get the sense of still being in Europe when walking through the streets of Lisbon. That is, except for one, not insignificant, aspect–the light.
The light in Lisbon, especially in the morning reminds me very much of the light in North Africa. The light in North Africa is different from the other places I have visited. Lisbon’s light is a lot like that.
The morning light has a soft quality that only hints at the coming heat of late morning and afternoon. It’s bright and reflects off the buildings and windows and pavement in a way that cannot help but make one feel good. Despite the slight chill in the air that accompanies all early mornings in fall, one only has to walk several yards before warming up.
Lisbon (at least from what i can observe from the window of my hotel room) takes long than most places I have been to “wake up,” and this may be because they stay up later, though not as late as the Spaniards. Traffic and pedestrians start moving around 8 in the morning and things really begin to pick up around 9 or so. Walking to the university over the past few days has allowed me to slip into the daily routine of the countless others who go about their daily life. Each morning I pass by them, taking their children to school and daycare, the hurried business men and women talking endlessly their cell phones, and walking past the shoe shine stalls that seem to be positioned every ten feet or so. For the past several mornings I have walked in that early morning light as if I belonged to Lisbon.
As the day moves on the light gets stronger and the temperature climbs. Despite it being late fall, it is still quite warm here. And that’ okay with me.