Friday 25 Sep
Being stressed (and getting over it)
This is my last stop in Europe. I should be trying to think of all the last things I should be savouring... last drinkable tap water, last wireless internet, last comprehensible public transport, etc etc. However, I have been distracted by a horrible piece of news: all the Togolese embassy websites clearly say that the visa on arrival is no longer available. This suggests that I won't even be able to set foot in Africa and my whole plan will be jeopardised from the beginning. Of course, the first rule of African visas is that there are no rules. I'm pretty sure they're bluffing because they want people to apply for visas in advance and pay more money, but it's very stressful not to be sure. And of course there's nothing I can actually do about it!
In the end I think this is going to be like my experience getting into Syria, but the stakes are about 100 times higher. It's all about confidence! I just have to assume that everything will go according to plan. Accordingly, I completely refuse to consider what would happen if I can't get on my flight and get stuck in Casablanca.
Wandering around Lisbon is nice, although it's a bit annoying to constantly be offered hash and cocaine in the street. I constantly marvel at the black and white mosaic paving throughout the city, which of course reminds me of Macau, where things like this have been copied in a terribly authentic way. The other excellent item of Portugese culture I discovered in Macao is Pasteis de Nata (egg tarts). But here, there are the famous and suitably delicious original ones in Belém.
I have to wonder why I am so often writing about associations with previous parts of my trip. Is it because I am attuned to the connections between Europe and the rest of the world? Or is it that travelling in Europe is not that profound compared with more challenging parts of the world and the experiences I'm having at the moment don't really count? I don't know, and anyway I'm leaving Europe so I will never have to think about it again.