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  • Writer's pictureThalien Colenbrander

A WOMAN SAT DOIN' NOTHIN' - from my travel blog

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

Stationed in a camper parking area in the town of Évora, Portugal minding my own business. Also present, is an old woman, with a gypsy face and dressed in a black chador-like garment. She's walking around. After a bit, she sits down on the curb about 20m away from me and just remains there, doing nothing, with a bottle of water next to her. She's facing my direction, and so I assume, since there isn't much else to watch, she's watching me. I witness all this while chatting away on the phone with my friend Laura in Amsterdam. To her, I express my wonder and increasing worry about this woman sat cupping her head in one hand doin' absolutely nothin'. She couldn't be waiting for someone, as one would be sitting closer to the road. I dare not stare at her directly to check if she is indeed staring at me - the humour and irony of this lost on me at the time.


As I'm sat in the shade directly behind the camper, I ponder the rather cynical option of her keeping an eye on me while a partner in crime enters my camper to steal something. Probably just paranoia, but nevertheless, I get up and close the door of my camper. Still feeling uncomfortable, I decide to go in, I have work to do anyway. Now and then I emerge to check on my dog Moos, to check if she's still there and...honestly...to check if she didn't steal Moos. Clearly paranoid by now. I decide I must Do Something. Lunch is digesting, and it occurs to me, I could offer her something to eat to snap out of whatever this is. It would be a kindness, plus give me the opportunity to come close and size her up.


Google Translate helps me in the language department, and to my relief, the delivery I've enlisted is basically the same as Spanish. Easy. I get over my hesitation - will she be offended? - and I approach her and offer something to eat or drink. She offers me a 3-toothed smile back and says in Portuguese "No, thanks, I've already eaten". I offer her something to drink and once again she thanks and declines, pointing at her bottle. We smile at each other and I return to my camper while my brain mutters: when did you eat? I've been spying on you for an hour!


When I leave a few hours later, she's no longer sitting on the curb, but on a chair by a camper. Close enough to think she has some connection there, but further than you normally would if you're chilling by your own camper. Mystery unsolved. She's too far away to discern whether she's watching me, so I wave in her direction while pulling out of the parking lot. Immediately, she waves back. While driving, I ponder how crazy it is that - despite it being a combination of factors that made me suspicious - a person sat doing nothing could freak me out like that. Apparently, when you're sat by yourself doing absolutely nothing - not texting, reading, or eating, drinking, smoking, talking, singing, moving, sleeping, whatever - you're highly suspicious. 😂


Lots of the spiritual teachers I hold in high regard are big on not being so focused on doing, but rather 'simply being'. And then I come across a person doing exactly that, and I break out in self-centered worry 😳 Lesson learned.


To read more of my travelling stories on Polarsteps, click here.


Love, Thalien xx

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