After 15 days at sea crossing the Atlantic Ocean, arriving on a gloriously warm May day my step-brother Belmiro, his wife Leonore and son Xavier met me at the Porto train station mid day and loaded all of my gear into their van - they could not believe what I had come with... the luxury of having no weight limit on a cruise would be a price I would pay trying to keep it all together with me as I navigated from the Windstar to theirs. And that was just the first leg of my journey en route to Ibiza.
We took the countryside route back to Aviero and I spent the next month reacquainting myself with my Portuguese relatives. Also on the Portuguese side I met with step-sister Sonya and her husband Pedro and my Brazilian step-sister Marie-Alice and her son Alex on numerous occasions during my visit with them.
Belmiro put me up at his house and he and his family treated me like a queen. They fed me only the way the Portuguese do, with their delicacies from one restaurant to another. I think I gained more weight there too - on top of having been at sea for three weeks with ample culinary delights there too. I am such a sucker for good food! Their culture is such that they gather family and go out to eat somewhere in the country on weekends - such a delight, grandchildren to grandmothers are all included. I was wined and dinned exquisitely!
Belmiro worked out of town a lot and during my visit he would come and go to Africa where he did business, while I hung out with the ladies. Leonore had a garment factory "Leotex" where she manufactured clothing for Spanish designers and employed several seamstresses. One day Leonore came home from work in pain and so naturally I squeezed her ears and the pain vanished.
The next day Leonore brought home an employee who was suffering with neck pain in my broken Portuguese, since no one spoke English, I managed to teach her how to deal with this problem herself, because as with any constant repetitive motion like she performs every day, the problem is not likely to go away. I taught her how to relieve her neck muscles on her ears her hands and her feet and to pay it forward at work with anyone else who was suffering from neck pain. There were others that Leonore brought home for various ailments to be treated with Ear Reflexology! I was in my glory - there is nothing that I would rather give to the world! Word got out that i liked Port and red wine and soon i had a collection of fine wines to chose from.
On one occasion Leonore brought home the daughter of one of her employees who was refusing to eat and they feared she was anorexic. In my assessment I learned she was A blood group, does best on a vegetarian diet, but her mother was trying to enforce a typical Portuguese diet heavy on meat. It was just about blocking the poor child solid, no wonder she did not want to eat - it would not come out. After 3 ear treatments and adjusting her diet to her blood type she had a complete turn around and was eating and vivacious again! They started calling me Doctor Michelle.
When Belmiro returned from his business trip to Africa he was inundated with accounts of the work I had been doing in his absence, to his astonishment, he had worried I would have difficulty with the language barrier while he was away.
It soon came time to leave Portugal and carry on to the brave new world of Ibiza. I had shopped so much I had to buy another suitcase to fit it all in and have it shipped to me because I had too many bags. But I was all decked out for Ibiza! I will never travel with that many bags again however...
Having flown everywhere a lot during my 20 year airline career, I continued to opt out of flying and traversed Portugal from Coimbra up the mountains to Salamanca then down to Madrid the most magnificent train station I have ever seen. I had a day stop over in Madrid and locked up my bags and ... went shopping! I will never carry this much luggage ever again!
I had chosen the next train through Zaragoza that arrived in Barcelona in time to catch the overnight ferry to Ibiza! Ready or not here I go!