Today I happened upon a communist rally.
While dropping off the dry-cleaning in Moscavide, a blue-collar neighborhood in intercity Lisbon, Portugal, I was caught up in a communist rally. I have to say it was quite a lot of fun. And since the Communist Party never wins more than 5% of the vote, I found the endeavor highly optimistic.
The usually busy streets were filled with residents all walking very quickly — Portuguese don’t really run — toward the start of the only street that goes into the neighborhood. They had flags in their hands and smiles on their faces. I was delighted because I have never seen a real communist face-to-face.
I did have nightmares about communists when I was a child. In my confused logic, I thought they were somehow responsible for the amputation of my grandfather’s leg, instead of the heart disease that actually took it. I watched the movie Red Dawn in the 5th grade and was sure the USSR would attack that very night.
I was a Cold War kid. And here I am slightly delighted to finally meet the enemy. If only I had realized that the enemy was a 65-year-old man with a café in one hand and a cane in the other, maybe I would have slept better in the 80’s. The shop keeper was singing a rally song as I dropped off my clothes. I didn’t feel threatened at all.
As I left Moscavide, slightly ahead of the march, I was amazed by what I saw. In a country where entering a round-about incorrectly elicits at least 5 horn honks and endless hand gestures, there were two city buses and 6 blocks of cars waiting in silence as the Commies rallied. Anything seemed possible! The proletariat may yet rise to power!?!
Several days later . . .
Alas — as usual, the communists only won a small percentage in the June elections. The winning party was the conservative Social Democrats — think Republican Socialist (weird huh?). After discussing the election with my language tutor Pedro, he said “Well, the communists never win the elections, but they know how to throw a party.” Every summer, the Commies have a weekend band festival. Everyone goes and listens to great music, drinks lots of wine and enjoys being with family. Pedro said the best part is the concerts are all free (of course), and there are no political speeches. Apparently, music and wine are enough to loll the masses! I wonder what would happen if they really rallied?
For now, I’m just delighted that even my errands become adventures in this new neighborhood!
Frizzle Chick bio: Introducing my sister Sarah, who moved to Lisbon, Portugal, two years ago for her husband’s work. With four kids in tow, and pregnant with #5, she settled into an urban life totally different from the one she knew in the United States. She gave birth a year ago to our family’s first foreign citizen — a little red-headed Portuguese boy! She’s almost fluent in the language now, which has made grocery shopping tons easier. In our family, Sarah is the “funny one.” Happily, she’s agreed to share her wit with Frizzle Chicks from time to time! To read more from Ambassador Hen, click here and here. Or here!