After my two day nap sans surfing and partying I felt better. I took the bus into the city again, but this time had to walk about twenty minutes to the next bus stop over in our town. For some reason the bus never showed up at our stop. Perhaps I displeased the public transportation gods when I did not participate in bopping people on the head with plastic hammers during Sao Joao.
I thought I was going to miss the morning walking tour but I made it just in time.
The morning tour was also great and I made some new friends.
At one point, we stopped at the Church of Santa Clara
For those who do not know, my middle name is Clare after Saint Clare. She was basically a bad ass woman in the Middle Ages in Assisi, Italy who took care of the poor, challenged the status quo, and called out Saint Francis to get with the program and start helping others.
Our tour guide told us about the history of the church and convent. He explained that many poor girls were sent here at a young age because their families could not afford them. Once they entered the convent, they could never leave again. There was a small garden on the estate that they were allowed to visit every once and a while. Mainly the young girls were subjected to strict disciplines and some were allotted educations. One of the main chores was learning to bake and making pastries for Porto’s citizens.
If the girls were not sent to the convent then they were married off to men three times their age.
I know this history well but, the American and Australian boys on the tour seemed unaware of these practices.
The tour guide asked us which we would choose and without missing a beat I said: convent.
The boys were shocked. They said marry an older dude.
This sparked a serious discussion.
Jake and Nick: Are you serious? You can never leave the convent. Never leave!
Me: While these are both horrible options, I would rather never leave a convent, learn to bake, have garden time, and maybe earn an education than have to endure pedifelic marital rape on a daily basis.
Jake and Nick: But what if the older dude is cool?
Me: I don’t think there was such a person as a cool pedophile rapist. That’s not a thing. Plus, girls would be having kids in their teens…WITH NO MEDS! You could die from childbirth.
Jake and Nick: You can never leave the convent!
Me: BOOKS, BAKED GOODS, AND YARD TIME!
While part of this discussion was a bit funny, the topic was serious. Girls had zero options. Even now, the options are the same in many countries around the world. Meanwhile, many boys….then and now…just don’t get it.
After the tour was over, a group of us walked to the Café Santiago to try the Franschina sandwich. It's one of those things that you do if you travel here.
One of our new crew was an American lady who happened to live outside DC in Virginia. She was telling us about her teenage kids and we starting talking about modernizing dating. All the twenty-somethings weighed in on dating apps and other strange interactions. Then she teased us about playing matchmaker. Jake and I would jokingly refer to each other as “Hubby” and “Wifey” for the next two days.
After the sandwiches we all went to the Franciscan church together.
The inside of the church is completely painted in gold leaf. While it is beautiful, this gold that was stolen from Brazil when the Portuguese colonized their land. There are so many contradictions within the religions. More on this later.
After the church our group slowly started going separate ways.
I went back with Jake and Nick to their hostel and booked a bed for the next night. I was going to be leaving early in the morning to get back to Lisbon and pick up my rental car.
We had a serious discussion about sports culture in America, the wage gap, and a few other things.
The conversation went as it normally does with many guys my age.
Me: So sexism is real and still a thing.
Most Dudes: Huh?
But it was a very interesting.
Afterwards, we all went to get wine and Nick said to me,
“Thanks for that. I haven’t had a thought provoking conversation in a while.”
“That’s what I’m here for Nick.”
I went home and told the boys I’d see them tomorrow. When I got back to the house, I met a young Canadian couple, Allan and Dani, who was staying at The Surf Farm for one night.
We all talked with Ze and Joana while drinking porto.
They were going to surf in the morning and I asked Ze.
“Can I surf with you guys?”