Accessible Algarve

Finding my new Molly

 I need a Portuguese Molly!

Every day I have a “gosh, I am living here” bomb hit me, but still the everyday and not so everyday realities of picking up and living in another country can be, well, overwhelming. 

Not being able to speak Portuguese for instance. It was OK at first, but now it is getting to be a problem. And I just have to face the fact; I am bad at learning languages, at least this one. Somehow I thought I would absorb it into my skin like my organic skin cream. And my pronunciation, I was speaking (or trying) to a friend one night and she begged me to please speak in English. My deadly attempt at her language was so painful she just could not handle it, and that was a friend! Imagine the people trying to understand which type of bread I want when there is a line of customers behind me. So, I come home with weird stuff that I didn’t want. Yep, it’s not soaking in, I guess I just have to study…..damn. 

Also, finding your special “people”. After two months without one, I am desperate for a pedicure. And my eyebrows (plus the upper lip) are out of control. Now that may sound trite to most of you, but for the pedicure addicts, and people who have had the great luck of knowing a person who you trust with your feet and eyebrows, and then, being adrift without them….it’s horrible! I just don’t know what to do without my Molly! So I have been on a quest to find my Portuguese “Molly”. 


Last night, at one of our favorite places, Pateo do Baco The Wine Bar as it is called in English, it was slow. The owners were eating crabs a friend had plucked fresh that day from around Foz, a city not far from Caldas da Rainha on the coast. They shared them with the few people having drinks and socializing, including us. They were delicious! A posse of women laughing and drinking sangria, having a good ole time were a couple of tables away. Instinctively I knew they had their own “Molly” and their “Molly” was as important to them as my Molly is to me. I mean, I am about to book a trip back to Palm Bay just to get an appointment with Molly, that is how dreadful this situation is! These women looked not over-groomed, but women who knew the importance of a pedicure and eyebrow professional. A women who will not care about going out in public sans make up, but would never think of having unpolished toes.

After thinking hard and getting up my courage, I went over and asked if they “falaed Inglish”, and was able to explain my situation. They were very sympathetic to my terrible plight and discussed it among themselves how they could best help me and pulled up a chair for me. This was going to take some time and of course, wine. 

I looked over at the Citizen, who is much more adept at this mystery language and is so patient when he says to ask for “quarto bolas integra, por favor” (4 wheat rolls), and I come home with a loaf of sweet bread because I got it all backward in the half a block from our apartment to the bakery. Well, I looked over and he gave me an encouraging smile that said “go for it”. So I sat down tried to “fala” my way into finding my own Molly. 

Even Manuela, the owner of the Pateo do Baco pulled up a chair for this; she could see entertainment written all over this mix. And these women were good friends and she knows me a bit by now, this was going to be fun. The most fabulous of the trio began to pull everything out of her purse looking for the card while they asked me the usual getting to know you questions.. One good thing, my name is a Portuguese name, so everyone likes it and when they say it, they say it with a flourish, quite wonderful really. So, they liked the background, at least what we could communicate. Another glass of wine later, the card! Instituto de Beleza, Milenio, ask for Elva, tell them Elia sent you. Manuela drew a map; it’s not too far from the apartment. Across the highway from the Lit’l (a value supermarket that we love) and by the round-about. Fabulous! 

The Citizen joins us, and with his lovely Portuguese gives them the background of our adventure. The who, the why and the whats. Our new amigas, Theresa, Elia and Ilda, Manuela and Miguel (who seems to be the waiter, but we think is very much more, he is just wonderful. Look up suave in the dictionary…there is Miguel). All promised to meet again at the Patio Branco and I un-officially christened Elia as Portugal’s first Bitchin Babe! 

While, this ex-pat stuff can be filled with silly and some big challenges I had not considered before I did this crazy thing, sometimes you find solutions in the most magical ways…and I suppose that is the whole point all this. So Elva….hope you have those lovely chair massagers, do a good job on my heels, have that new polish that lasts forever and I hope you don’t mind if I call you Molly sometimes.

Update: I have been watching a shop in the opening process 3 doors from my apartment, it looked like a day spa…I was so hoping, dreaming…today I walked in. I was greeted by the owner in English, she is a young American from Jersey. She is my new Molly! She even said I could call her Molly, but I’ll stick to her name….Alda! My own Alda! I can’t wait until tomorrow!

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