The Washington Post

Somewhere in Portugal

I’ve had almost no Internet access for my laptop, which was pretty much the whole idea of the vacation. Modern life has too much Internet access, on this we can all agree. In the old days we’d all walk down the sidewalk with eyes open, checking out the landscape, window shopping, people-watching, but now we’re constantly on our phones and falling down manholes. I don’t want to overstate the situation or exaggerate, but as a society we’ve lost way too many people to the sewer system. Also there’s too much checking of the email, even when snorkeling, dirt-biking and parasailing. Distracted hang-gliders cause an extraordinary amount of the carnage we see happening daily on bluffs, cliffs and outcroppings. This is the world we want to bequeath our children??

We’re staying bluffside on what I believe is the Atlantic Coast of Portugal. It looks like the Mediterranean to me but the salinity, sparkle and seaweed flavor, and in particular the crunchiness of the barnacles, tell me it’s the Atlantic.

I’ve been assiduously avoiding doing anything practical, other than making long lists of what I’ll accomplish and hobbies I’ll take up when I return to America. It’s time I became an equestrian, just as an example. And this year my backyard gardening will finally and incontrovertibly amount to something impressive and farming-like, and Lucy will not pull away that particular football.

This is why we go on vacation: To dream again, and shout at the heavens that we are not done, that we have a Third Act yet to come, plus the encore where we play “Stairway to Heaven.”

The awkward part, though, is explaining to the bosses that I really should be the head of the Portugal bureau. Surely there’s lots of news here. They had that earthquake not that long ago that devastated Lisbon, right? Okay so technically it was in the middle of the 18th Century, but I still see possibilities for a step-back piece, a tick-tock, a what-it-all-means take-out for some slow summer weekend when they’re desperate for copy.

Sounds like a plan.

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Joel Achenbach · April 9, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.