The Portuguese say the funniest things…

When we were first arranging to come here, people would ask me what my greatest fear about it all was.

The answer was about my ability to learn Portuguese. I figured I could handle whatever else would be thrown at me. You just figure it out or ask someone or make your best guess and move on. But learning a new language is really the first time I’ve tried to force my brain to learn something completely new and major in decades. In business, you learn things bit by bit. It’s a slow process of accumulation. But when learning a new language, you’re being asked to memorize completely new stuff over and over again.

Even though the famous language struggles of the Chinese make me feel a little better about it all, thus far, I’ve discovered my fear wasn’t unfounded. I am often exposed to a new word in Portuguese and then ten seconds later am asked to repeat it. And it’s just not there. It’s like I never heard it. After three, four, or sometimes ten times, it starts to sink in. And that’s just one word!

Then they ask me to string a bunch of words together to form a sentence. There don’t seem to be many rules about what goes where and why. The Portuguese just put it in a certain order and you’re supposed to just remember it, not try to figure out why.

They also throw in these “o’s” and “a’s” from out of the blue. “This is my dog” translates to: “este é o meu cão.” Where the hell did that “o” come from? It’s just my cow –er dog! Este meu cao! That’s it! I don’t need no damn “o” providing some sort of exclamation! He’s a lousy dog anyway, he doesn’t deserve an “o.” Actually, we don’t have a dog right now. I miss having a dog, which translates to: “Sinto falta de um cão.” Where’s the “o” now homies?

On top of all that, every noun is either male or female, which is common in lots of languages. But why? Who the hell came up with that bright idea? And why is “ovo” (egg) a male noun? And “guerra” (war) a female noun? You can’t tell me violence isn’t a male-dominated activity. I’d commit some male-dominated activity on the numbskull that decided every noun needed a sex.

Like Spanish, if a word ends in an “o,” it’s probably a male word, and “a” for female. Probably. “Um mapa” (a map) and “um dia” (a day) are both male, just to mention a couple of exceptions.

Chinese 2Most of the time when I say things in Portuguese to Portuguese, I get a blank stare in return. Carolyn’s pronunciation is much better than mine. Hell, I don’t pronounce so well in English. Anyway, you try saying “carrrrrrrlllllo” (car), or “lhes,” (them), which is pronounced just like it’s spelled. It sounds like I’m having a seizure.

Anyway, I’m posting all of these Chinese signs to make me feel better.

The Portuguese can’t quite keep up with the Chinese in the Signs Hijinks category, but we’ve found some of the translations on ads and products to be pretty funny. Enjoy!


Yes, this is just Rude.
The Portuguese definitely love their fish. Apparently so much so that women want to smell just like it. Maybe the funniest thing about this ad is that “Pssst! E ja passou” literally translates to: “Psst! And already passed.” Not sure if the passed gas comes first, or the spray.
Mofos don’t stand a chance here with people carrying around these mofo stoppers.
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This is only a funny sign because we only have to pay 60 cents for a hot cup ‘o joe here. We’re laughing all the way to the piggy bank.
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One is a Bimbo, the other is brea––ow! Uh, sorry honey. Um, yeah, the other is my beautiful wife.
I translate this to: “Pediatrician-tested sob control.” In other words, the Portuguese have a spray that eliminates sobbing in kids! How can you beat that?
Drugs are decriminalized in Portugal. Apparently that was enough for a cereal company to market the hard stuff. Didn’t do much for me though. However, for some reason I have fifteen boxes of it in the cupboard and have it for every meal. But it’s not addictive, I swear.
What kind of fricking store is this anyway?
In our Portuguese lessons, we learned that “leal” means “loyal,” and “coelho” means “rabbit.” So this politician’s name is “Teresa Loyal Rabbit.” Of course, I’d rather have a loyal rabbit in charge than a Lyin’ Cheeto.
I don’t think Yamashita is all that proud of their products. Either that, or the graphic artist was a bit disgruntled.

That’s all she wrote for today because I have to, well, these pictures say it all, don’t they?

Kevin & Carolyn to be on House Hunters International!

DSC_0202As most of you know, Carolyn’s profession was in interior design. Before we moved, she must’ve been asked a hundred times if we were going to be on House Hunters International. Lo and behold, ultimately the answer is, “yes!”

We just wrapped up filming for our episode, which won’t air for another six months or so, and we won’t be able to see a lick of it until it does. We’ll certainly let everyone know when we find out the air date. Alas, we can’t reveal a whole lot about the show ahead of time.

So we can’t say much other than to see we had a great experience! Stay tuned!



Incendio em Sesimbra!

We interrupt our regular blog-casting to bring you the latest hot news. In this case, very hot!IMG_5799

On our way to lunch after wrapping up a week of filming (more on that later), we spotted a plume of smoke about six miles from our house. Before we were done eating, the TVs in the restaurant were all tuned to the news, showing the fire that was maybe three miles from where we were. After lunch, we drove home after watching the smoke roil from the road for a while, and turned on the news.

Since we still don’t understand a lick of spoken Portuguese (unless it’s our tutor speaking to us very slowly and clearly, something the rest of the Portuguese simply never otherwise do) and not knowing how big it was going to get,Airplane panic we used it as an opportunity to practice our evacuation procedures, which involved a lot of screaming and shouting and running into each other while throwing photos, laptops, and dirty underwear into a couple of beleaguered suitcases. It was good for us to practice, because we learned that, for instance, our beloved car Marco will actually not go through the metal gate properly if the gate isn’t opened, especially when the occupants of said car are screaming in terror at the top of their lungs.

Just kiddin’ about most of that. We did practice an evacuation though, especially since we’re not familiar with Portuguese evacuation procedures. They might be broadcasting from a truck, “Stay in your homes, all roads are closed!” and we might think they’re saying, “Get out of your houses NOW! And don’t forget to open the gate!” Plus, since there are only two roads that lead from the peninsula we’re on, one doesn’t want to dawdle and end up in the middle of a 5 kilometer line of cars, especially when you’re the ones most likely to get picked for something bad. “Hey! Those guys are Americans! Send them through that firestorm first to see if we can get through!”

One very large advantage to selling everything you own and having almost nothing to your name besides beleaguered luggage, a couple of laptops, and dirty underwear, is that you can pile everything important into your car in a matter of minutes and be on your way.

Fortunately, the fire was contained by first 50, and then 100, and then 200 “bombeiros,” which translates to “firefighters,” but was also the war cry of the Ukutacks, who lived next to the Eiros and didn’t like them.

They also used firefighting planes, which we could see dropping water from our new perch on top of the Sesimbra Castle, which we figured was as safe as anyplace seeing as how it hadn’t burned down yet even after hundreds of years.

In any case, here are some “during and after” pictures of the conflagration. We’re happy to report we’re safe and sound, and also that our underwear is now clean.


A plane after dropping water on the blaze. It seems like it’s throwing a teaspoon of water on a burning house, but they apparently got the job done.


The next day, we were able to drive the road through the area, which is the same road we often take to get home after being in Lisbon.
Many of the trees seem to have made it through, but nature now has a clean slate with which to repaint the ground.

Anyway, that’s the last time I’ll ever toss the fireplace ashes into the woods!