Spring By Cameraphone And Saying The Magic Words

Far be it from me to resort to weather-talk on this blog, but…

HAVE YOU BEEN OUTSIDE LATELY? Has Mother Nature had a nervous breakdown, or what?

This top photo was taken Monday evening, but the rest were shot around sunset today, mostly around High Park. I’m on blossom-watch, you see, because I have some couples who’d like to do their engagement photos in the park but the unstable climate has been extending the hibernation of plant life. After picking up my car from the garage (more on this in a moment), I went to High Park to guesstimate how long it will be before we see some blooming action. Maybe last year spoiled us and we’ve forgotten about the previous year (2009), when the blossoms didn’t make their appearance until May. At any rate, my guess is that the magnolia trees will need a few more days and the cherry trees will need a little longer, maybe a week.

The car is back in action, after another day at the garage, this time with a mysterious internal leak of antifreeze. The saga began last Thursday enroute to Detroit, sitting in traffic and watching with alarm as the temperature gauge climbed steeply. I pulled over and looked under the hood for a sign of the problem. That’s when I noticed the antifreeze reservoir was empty. I exited at Port Credit (Mississauga) and bought the last few bottles of antifreeze from a gas station. Hugo watched for a leak under the car but there wasn’t one, even after I poured in TWO 1-litre bottles. I kept the last bottle at the back just in case.

On Sunday when it was time for me to leave Detroit, I checked the reservoir again and I’d lost a whole litre in just a few days. Not good. I poured in the last bottle and made it home alright, but when I checked it again a few days ago, the litre was gone… and still no sign of a leak. I brought the car in yesterday and the garage called this morning with the verdict: thermostat housing was broken, causing the leak. I picked up the car after work, and while I was at the service desk it occurred to me to finally speak up and ask if the mechanics were Portuguese.

“I’m going to Portugal.”

And those, ladies and gents, were the magic words: the manager’s face lit up like a beacon and next thing I knew, he was teaching me Portuguese phrases and urging his son to fetch maps from their travel agency next door and drawing out itineraries for me on paper. The place was filling up with people bringing in their cars for repair, and every time I tried to extricate myself from what looked more like a tourist info centre rather than an automotive repair shop, the manager kept telling me not to leave yet. So I stood there feeling the heat from the people behind me while the manager listed all the historical sites I should visit and the aesthetic features of each. Every time an employee walked by the desk (almost everyone working at this 24-hour garage is Portuguese) he was beaming, pointing to me and telling them that I was going to Portugal. It was charming and embarrassing at the same time.

Finally, I grabbed my car keys and promised I would return — without the car! — for more Portuguese language lessons. I turned the key in the ignition and the battery light came on immediately. Thinking this was just a temporary thing I kept the car running and it didn’t go away. Turned off the car, tried again and the light came back on after about 30 seconds. I tried this several times before getting the manager’s attention, and he motioned for me to bring my car back in and got me to jump the queue — SORRY AGAIN, PEOPLE! A mechanic just starting his shift thought it might be the alternator, did some testing and eventually found a fuse had blown. He replaced it while I was standing there and turned to the manager who, still very stoked about me visiting his homeland, waived any charges. Even as I was backing out of the garage, I could hear him telling the mechanic that I was going to Portugal! It was charming and embarrassing and good fortune, all at once :)

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Gail at Large

Canadian expat, freelance photographer, blogging daily for nearly 12 years. Close to 5,000 posts across 95 categories, there is something here for everyone -- especially if you like travel photography.

Moved to Portugal Autumn 2013. Also lived in Australia, Scotland, and the USA. Native English speaker, learning Portuguese. Apologies to the locals for my terrible pronunciation!
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3 thoughts on “Spring By Cameraphone And Saying The Magic Words

  1. That’s a great story. I can just imagine you standing there with all those people behind you tapping their feet. But how nice of them! I always enjoy your birthday vacations, so safe travels and can’t wait to hear about it and see some photos.

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