Last Mile With Ice Cream

There are events in our life which are to be fully experienced, and there are events which really work as “deflectors”. They are there to switch the path, to move us in a different direction.

For instance, today.

We were planning for a few days already to go out during this weekend, to check one of the beaches close to Lisbon, called Carcavelos. So in the morning we woke up very determined, Raluca made some sandwiches, I took some beach stuff in my backpack, and we rushed to the train station. From Lisbon to Carcavelos is just a mere 25 minutes, but we had to walk another 25 minutes to the train station.

It was a nice morning, though, so we enjoyed the walk. Although it was early, the day seemed to turn into a hot one. As we arrived in the train station, we noticed a little bit of a crowd, slightly more than usual. Well, it’s expected, I said to myself, it’s Sunday, everybody goes to the beach.

We went to the automatic ticket machines to verify if we need to top up, and there: surprise. On the screen of the machine there was a A4 sheet of paper, with the following message: “Greve. Proximo comboio, 16:20”. I’m sure you understood, but just for conformity, that meant: “Strike. First train at 16:20”. It was 10:50. In that moment I also realized that the strike was the reason for the crowd too, there were a lot of people taken by surprise, hanging around, just like us.

In a couple of minutes it became very obvious that we’re not going to the beach. There were no buses either, and taxi drivers increased their prices, as the influx of people was pretty high.

So we turned around, ready to spend a chill Sunday at home.

As we entered Alfama, a neighborhood which was close to were we lived, Raluca remembered about a small ice cream shop. It seemed like a nice compensation for our unexpected situation, so we stopped by.

The shop was really small, just one table in front of the door, and three more inside. Behind the counter, a middle age man, smiling. We started to talk about what ice cream options do we have and soon we were talking in a mix of Spanish and Portuguese, trying out basically every offer he had. All tasted surprisingly good, so I went for a medium size ice cream, and Raluca settled for a small one.

Alas, little did I know what “medium” meant. I knew it included 3 different cups (chocolate, hazelnut and pistacchio, if you’re curious), but when he started to put the first one, he seemed like he will never stop. We were still chatting, and when he finished adding the first “cup” I realized I’m in for a serious challenge. When he finished added the other two, I had in front of me a small ice cream tower. No way I could eat that in one go. Raluca’s tower was a bit smaller, but still too big for one try.

We did our best, though. We sat at a table, started to eat, and continued our friendly conversation. But in about 5 minutes it was obvious we couldn’t even get to the half of it.

After we whispered a little between us, we asked the man if we can just take the rest away. He seemed a bit confused – probably not too many people were having this request – but he found a solution very fast. He combined the remaining of the two “towers” into a single one, put it in a new paper cup, and then added an empty cup on top of the mix. It seemed to hold relatively well.

We thanked, took the ice cream contraption and off we went.

Once outside, I estimated we had only a short 10 minutes walk home.

Like I said, it turned out to be a very hot day in Lisbon. In about 2-3 minutes, the contraption started to leak.

And this is everything goes on a completely different level.

We started to almost run, while Raluca, who was holding the contraption, was cleaning it as much as she could, descending on the steep slopes of Alfama, with only one thought: let’s get home before that amazing ice cream melts down. We had nothing else on our mind. The world was limited to the street, the contraption and our steps.

After another 4-5 minutes, we were in front of the house. We entered, one last clean, and the ice cream was safely stored in the freezer.

I actually had another try at it, just an hour ago, and it was just as delicious. This time it was probably even more delicious, as it combined the taste with what Raluca had too (coconut and something else).

As I was enjoying the taste, I was also thinking about today’s post. What if I write about this experience? How would I describe that 10 minutes from the shop to our home?

And the only word that came to my mind was: samadhi. While we were doing that thing, we were fully in the moment. Nothing else existed for us. We were glued to the experience, not a single inch of space between the doing and the being. We were in flow.

That strange glitch in the matrix, the strike that prevented us to go to the beach, deflected us into this wonderful gift.

Sometimes, samadhi comes through meditation. Sometimes it comes during the last mile with ice cream.

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