Up in Smoke
We were warned about the smoking culture in Portugal prior to our arrival, but even then, I had no idea it would be so prevalent. Literally, everywhere you go, someone is smoking. Cigarette butts flood the sidewalks, the train tracks, the bars. And the smoke, the smoke is almost inescapable. Thankfully, most of the restaurants I've been in have not allowed smoking. That is, unless you decide to sit outside to enjoy the live music or people watch - then you better be prepared.
Apparently it's still pretty common that many families smoke inside the house as well. Granted, we have this in the US too, but I was lucky enough to not have to deal with it much growing up. After my parents got divorced, my dad started smoking inside the house with his newfound freedom. The more I visited him, the less I cared to spend time there because I hated the idea of jeopardizing my health all for the sake of his vice. Ultimately, it hindered our relationship because he wasn't considerate enough of my feelings towards it.
On the CIEE Application, there is a section you're asked to fill out that is basically a family matching questionnaire. On this questionnaire you are asked your preference on living inside a smoking home. If you've read any part of this blog, you already know the answer I chose. Even though that was and still is the most important question to me in the questionnaire, I was not paired with a non-smoking family. In fact, both my Portuguese mother and the father smoke inside the house.
I've already have a couple discussions with them about how I feel about smoking inside the house while I'm there. Thankfully, they've started to accommodate my requests. The mother will occasionally smoke outside, but most of the time she will shut her door and open a window. The father doesn't seem to be smoking as much anymore either. Thank goodness.
I hated the idea of irritating them or tarnishing the relationship I've already built with them by continuing to nag at them about smoking inside, so I'm thankful they've been considerate of my feelings towards the nasty habit.
Other than the whole smoking issue, I really like my host family. They don't seem to go out much, homebodies I would call them, so we don't often do things together outside of the home, unless there is a birthday. However, this couple can really cook. Most nights the meal is an experiment of some sort, using whatever is in the pantry or the fridge. I adore that type of cooking. Mostly because I've never been able to shy away from a recipe or whatever I'm working on turns out to be a complete disaster. I hope to share a few of my own recipes with them as well.
Although I haven't found much in common with my family yet, I got to thinking... Seeing as how the pasteis de nata are one of the most typical pastries (and best kept secrets) here in Portgual - so much so that even my host mom doesn't know how to bake them - I suggested that we learn together. Not only so I can bring the recipe home, but mostly to create an activity for the two of us to do together. I think it would be nice to spend a little more quality time with them. I just need to figure out how to make that happen... but that will have to be a blog for another day.