the moon in lagos

gosh. it’s already november. i can’t believe that we have only two months to go before the new year. but the low temperatures are still double-digit numbers (celsius), though. i go anywhere in light cotton top and pants during the daytime. lots of osakanians may be dying to show off their new woollies, i guess. “jack frost” seems to be having a whale of a time someplace else. in england, perhaps? i’ve noticed that the london’s weather has turned wintry, nippy and even had some snowflakes recently.

when lived in london, i quite liked finding fern frost patterns on my kitchen window and frozen petals in the garden on cold mornings. a crisp air could sharpen my senses. nonetheless, thick or wet weather made me go crazy missing a sunny place. and, i actually tried to escape from damned dim days. there were several holiday destinations i fancied. algarve, where there was a distinct possibility of sunny spells, came across my mid first, since i’d never been to portugal before. as it turned out, my instinct proved myself right. november in lagos, not the one in africa but in the algarve region, was a seashore paradise.

i stayed at a villa-styled hotel on the cliff and my room had not only a perfect ocean view but a perfect kitchenette as well. people would think it’s ridiculous if i said i’d love to cook on holiday. but i do. so the first thing i did in lagos was food shopping at a local supermarket. at the check-out counter – i found myself having no money with me. silly me. i’d left my wallet in my hotel room. while i was in a panic, i recognised the faces of a youngish english family, who took the same plane from gatwick airport and stayed in the same villa as mine, queuing up right behind me.

i explained the circumstances to the father and politely asked him if i could borrow some cash to pay and told him i’d returned the money as soon as i got back in the villa. but he refused. fair enough. who’d want possible trouble on holiday? to be fair, i was a complete stranger. after the awkward moment of silence, a man showed up, introducing himself in english as the shop owner. “where are you staying?” he asked me. i told him the name of the villa. “you can take the stuff with you” said the owner, “no problem. i’ll collect the money later.” i felt like shedding my tears over his kind offer. “obrigada,” i repeated my first portuguese word. i appreciated his trust in me. he made my day.

during my stay, i dined out at a small restaurant sometimes, while i kept visiting “my supermarket”. and also i shopped at a local fish market that inspired me to cook a cheap and cheerful spaghetti alla pescatora, which normally would cost me a lot in london. the only problem was, the fishy and garlicky aroma didn’t easily go away from my room. oh, i shouldn’t forget to mention the natural beauty of lagos: the crystal blue sea and the numerous grottoes that lagos especially boasts. not to mention the mediterranean climate i loved and the gorgeous praias (beaches) along the atlantic ocean with fewer holidaymakers.

there were many other ways in lagos to find life’s simple pleasure by doing nothing, like sunbathing on the white and soft sandy beach (if you don’t mind the cold water, you can swim in november!), strolling into the washed-out coloured town, or looking up at the moon in the starry sky. though i had a chance to visit the dramatic southwesternmost point of europe, cabo de são vicente in sagres, for me it was purely a joy to take the same street on my way to the beach or on my way back to the villa, walking by the house where the branches of bougainvillea hung heavy with flowers in the full bloom over the stuccoed fence.

one afternoon, when i was walking along the marina, i heard someone whistling some sentimental but very familiar melody somewhere. i stopped to wonder what the melody was, looking for who was whistling the tune. as i saw a yachtsman busy pulling a rope on his yacht, i recalled that the tune was japanese: the old but popular song for schoolchildren, “kojo no tsuki (moon over the ruined castle)” composed by 滝 廉太郎 rentaro taki. the melody filled me with nostalgia. but, how and where did he get acquainted with that japanese tune? there could’ve been an interesting story behind his whistling the tune. i was too shy to ask the yachtsman, which i still regret even now. november moons always tell me i really should’ve.

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