Book excerpt from Unlimited Lisbon Metro Card
Options are all around us all of the time. We have the ability to create the life that we want when we want it.
It didn’t seem that way to me in the past as I lived my daily 8–6 office life, happy hour, 6 hours of sleep during the week with Saturday errands and Sunday brunch on the weekends.
One day I wondered, “What would happen if I made a big change in my life by doing the exact opposite of everything that I am doing now?” Everyone around me was making these small changes like yoga, weight loss, and hobbies in addition to their daily lives. I didn’t want to continue being the person who says, “My life is hard and it sucks but it’s okay because I lost 20lbs and do yoga now.” I was no happier even when I was thinner with my chakras aligned.
In 2014 I was ready to make the change. Rents were skyrocketing every year and finding work that supported my increasing expenses was tough to find. I talked to an ex-coworker who left the United States to live in San Pedro, Belize and she convinced me to start living abroad.
Working virtually from Belize for me meant lounging on the edge of a white sandy beach under a palm tree. I attended meetings via Skype with my MacBook on my lap in full view of the Caribbean Sea. It only took me a few days living on a Caribbean island to realize that I was sitting on a goldmine of options to upgrade my lifestyle for less.
If I could do it, then others could do it too.
It was at that moment when I decided to travel the world and inform the public of what it’s really like to live abroad. Using my resources to telecommute as a virtual secretary and house sit internationally, I was able to quickly immerse into 14 countries where the U.S. dollar is strong. I lived comfortably on less than $800/month while working 25 hours per week in paradise.
The transition process to moving abroad, like anything else, still has its challenges. In my pursuit to find ways of settling into a new country, I have these “adventure” moments where I need to tap into my brain from a different perspective and come up with non-traditional ways to accomplish daily tasks or errands in different cultures. Some important details tend to get lost in translation, cultural lifestyle and level of effort.
Trying to accomplish simple home management tasks, like filling a gas tank for your gas stove in parts of Belize. Nearly everyone I asked who gets their gas tanks filled said, “The truck comes around. Just wave them down.” Meanwhile 7 trucks have passed my place that day, “You’ll see it,” they said. No one could tell me what color the truck was or when it came around. The 13th person I asked was able to give me the color of the truck and described the sound of it’s car alarm as it drove around the neighborhood. Why honk your horn when you have a car alarm, right?
That type of situation is frustrating and requires a strong commitment in finding a resolve. Typically, I will set aside a whole day to fulfill a simple errand in another country using the instructions I’ve researched to complete that errand. My first task in Lisbon, Portugal was to obtain the Lisbon Metro Monthly Unlimited Card for €36.
Lisbon Metro charges €1.45 per trip, which is a bit closer to 1st world/U.S. metro prices. I tend to cover a lot of ground on a daily basis so getting around in a timely fashion is important to me. Lisbon’s monthly unlimited card pays for itself in around 10 days taking two trips per day. I use metro services up to 6 times per day. Lisbon Metro ticket machines only give out top up cards, day passes and weekly passes which can add up if you are navigating Lisbon for over 2 weeks.
I started my metro card adventure with a Google search confirming that there may be a monthly metrocard and the Portuguese Metro website only translated selected information, which didn’t include the metro pass information. During a coffee chat, I found out that my friend, Zak, has a monthly card and told me how to get my own, “Go to Merteemnoooshh [Martim Moniz metro station] and get the form. It costs €8. You can go anywhere, Leeza [Lisa], anywhere for only like €32 per month. You save so much!”
I was immediately confused about the price of the pass. Was it €8, €32 or €40? These prices were not listed on the Portuguese website. Since I didn’t understand what Merteemnoooshh meant, I asked Zak where Merteemnoooshh was located. Zak pointed straight ahead and said, “It’s just down this way, you will see and you will save.” I had no idea what he was pointing at. We were in a huge plaza with a coffee cabana in the middle of it. I felt like was I going to end up on a sightseeing walk where would I never find Merteemnoooshh.
I asked Zak where I might get the form once I got to Merteemnoooshh. “How should I ask for the form?” My friend said, “It’s okay, Leeza, you just tell them and pay and you will have it in 10 or 15 days. You will save so much.” Then I wondered how I would get the card after I paid for it. Were they going to mail it to me?
I thought about asking him to be more specific but there’s only so much you can discuss when two people are from two different cultures and don’t speak the same languages. Zak speaks British English with a Pakastani accent and then speaks Portuguese layered with those two accents. I speak American English with a NY accent (sometimes) and some Spanish, which I confuse for Portuguese. It was easier to accept the information he gave me a go for drinks.
A few days later I heard my local friends speaking to each other in Portuguese using the phrase, “Merteemnoooshh.” I jumped in the conversation to asked them where that was located. This opened up a second conversation about how I could obtain my monthly metrocard. My friend and Portuguese cultural consultant, Carolina Silva, gave me a new set of instructions, “Go to Cais do Sodre [cahshh due sue-dre] and ask for the application at the ticket window. You can get the card in 1 day.” Being more familiar with the Cais do Sodre station, I started my adventure with this secondary information.
Lucky to get someone at the ticket window to help me in English, I was able to get all of the information needed to obtain this card. Many of the Lisbon Metro ticket agents only speak Portuguese. I still stumbled onto a few confusing situations in getting this card but I dedicated the whole day to accomplishing this task. Again, frustrating but, also, an adventure.
Instead of losing my patience time and again, I’ve decided to make the most of these little learning experiences and create micro-books of detailed instructions for you to use and have a smoother transition living abroad.
My first book, The Unlimited Lisbon Metro Card, takes you on my adventure in search of the best discounted metro pass. I’ve taken dubious notes on how to obtain the monthly Lisbon Metro Pass in just one day so you can also take advantage of this great deal.
If you liked this introduction to The Unlimited Lisbon Metro Card and want to read more click here for the full set of instructions.
As I delve deeper into creating my creature comforts living abroad, I will continue to share my process with you so you are more prepared than ever to become an expat!
Dear Brave Soul,
These are changing times where exploring the world can open up new life opportunities for you! My mission is to show you how to demystify the process of living abroad.
For more information go to:
You can purchase The Unlimited Lisbon Metro Card here.
Safe travels, xox!!! ~Lm