First time in Portugal! I’m in the capital city of Lisbon for seven nights to attend and present at Rotary International‘s annual Convention and Water Summit. I’ve got some fun touristy stuff in mind too, and plan to give a good shake of the dust off my Portuguese. Lisbon is an Atlantic coastal city with a population of about 3 million, lots of seafood restaurants, a rich history and culture to explore, brisk night time air, and some beautiful beaches within a few hours’ bus ride.
The Rotary Convention is a five-day event held in a different city every year that brings 25,000 Rotarians together from all over the world to celebrate continuing Rotary fellowship, the global activities of Rotary over the previous 12 months and give a big warm welcome to the incoming leadership. This is my first Convention and I’m very excited about that! I’ve been told to expect a range of activities including many meals, drinks, cultural visits, presentations and meetings. I’m hoping to see some of the Rotarians I’ve met or worked with over the last three years and others with whom I’ve formed the bonds of friendship. There will be Rotary Peace Fellowship gatherings at which I will get to met Fellows from some of Rotary’s six other Peace Centers. Also excited to see my world traveler friend and water work mentor Sir Henk Holtslag.
The Convention will include many discussions of Rotary’s work to end polio and invest in water and sanitation, and its other core focus areas. Rotary invited me here to present on household water quality at their Water Summit, and to host an exhibition booth for The Water Institute at UNC, a supporter of the Summit. The Water Institute is based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is dedicated to providing leadership on issues related to the world’s water crisis.
Of course, I always take advantage of my work-related travel to try and see a bit of the cities and countries I visit. :-) On the plane over from Frankfurt to Lisbon, the airline’s in-flight read had a few good suggestions. Here’s some of what I plan to visit and do while I’m here:
– Parque Florestal de Monsanto (Monsanto Forest), the “lungs” of Lisbon
– Casa de (Home of) Fernando Pessoa, a famous Portuguese poet (inspired by Angelica Vargas)
– Praia do Norte (North Beach) near Nazare, known for some of the biggest waves in the world
– Drink Port wine, eat fried cuttlefish, and enjoy some fado – a traditional type of music
– Museu da Agua (the Water Museum), a tour of the city’s underground waterways – cool!
Being here gives me the opportunity to brush up on my language skills and kindles fond memories of my visits to other parts of the Portuguese-speaking world: Brazil, Macau, and Mozambique. My visit to Brazil in 2001 was my first trip outside of North America and was one of the sparks for my love of language and travel that consumes me today.
Check back here soon for updates on some of of the work I am doing and the fun I am having!