Day Twelve

Portugal: Day Twelve (duodecimo dia)

Remember that time Romeo vomited? Here is part two of the saga. It doesn’t actually include Romeo, because he’s totally fine (I know you were worried!).

Sometime in the middle of the night I got up to pee. The toilet flushed, but the bowl emptied super slow. I didn’t think too much of it and went back to sleep. When I got up in the morning, it did the same thing. My toilet paper floated above the weak flush of the toilet…What, I wondered, had clogged the toilet?

We went to Irmaos Duarte, LDA (the hardware store in the square that I now know is owned by Carla’s dad). They didn’t have a plunger, but they had some powder that you put in the bowl with boiling water. The guy at the hardware store told me to wear gloves and keep it far away from my face. The man who checked me out (who turns out to be the junior Mira Mar coach) again warned me to be very careful (at least I think that’s what he said—he spoke Portuguese). John and I went home and I put on a put of water to boil. I poured half the bag of powder, just like the man said, and then dumped in the boiling water. It started to bubble up like a 7th grade science class volcano. John and I went and got a galao (to let the magic powder do it’s work) and tried to flush the toilet when we got back. Nothing had changed.

I went downstairs to the nail salon to see if Carla had a plunger. I told her what I had done with Romeo’s vomit-crusted-paper-towel-mess. She said she was so sorry, she should have told me before that we can’t flush any paper down the toilet. The last time this happened they had to remove the toilet to fix the clog. She said a plunger wouldn’t do me any good. Just then, Lina popped into the nail salon. Turns out her dad owns the other hardware store at the end of the river road. Lina called the store to see if they had any plungers, and she told the man on the phone what I had done. He said a plunger might not work, but they did have some and they are very cheap. I walked down the river road to the store owned by the Silvas. The man there was waiting for me and sold me a plunger (for 2 euros) and a snake (for 12 euros). The snake was not like any snake I had seen before: it did not sit inside of a handle or canister, it was just totally loose. It did have a handle that you could crank, if you got 10 meters of the thing into the toilet first.

I tried the plunger first and all I managed to do was get the tiny plunger stuck in the huge bowl bottom and immerse my hands, wrists, and forearms in toilet water (agua de toalha). Once I managed to un-stick the plunger, I moved on to the snake. I got about 8 inches of it into the bowl and through some of the plumbing. All I managed to do this time was bring up some toilet paper that must have been hanging above my clog. John began his attempt, and all he got was elbow deep in toilet water (now when we flushed the toilet, it didn’t empty all the way). I washed my arms furiously and went downstairs to enlist Carla’s help.

Carla’s dad (as well as Lina’s dad) owns a construction company, and they were working on some apartments next door to us. Carla called her mom and within minutes one of the workers was outside the nail salon. He followed us up into our apartment and tried using the snake. He didn’t get much further than we had, and it didn’t unclog anything. He asked for something to scoop the water out of the bowl with; he was going to have to remove the toilet. The whole process—emptying the bowl, removing the screws that held the toilet to the floor, removing the toilet, pushing the paper-towel-mass down the pipes, and putting the toilet and screws back in—took all of ten minutes. I had been trying to fix this since 9:00am, and now it was after 2:00pm. Success. I bleached everything I could and told John we were throwing every bit of toilet paper in the trash from now on.

Now that that mess was over, I decided to go for a run. Romeo was snoozing, so I went solo.


After my extremely awesome run on Sunday, I decided to do a warm-up lap around the vila and then cook it up the lomba above the big beach. My plan was to do 3.0. After my first lap, I turned toward the lomba. It doesn’t get steep right away, but after you take a few turns, the ascent begins. After I got up about .5km up the real ascent, I couldn’t hack it and turned around. Once I got back to the beginning of that hill again, I felt awesome (hill running has its perks!). I decided to go back up; I got to the same point as before and I had to turn around for fear of an asthma attack. Again, once I got to the bottom of that hill, I felt like Amy Perlman must feel killing 10k’s (her pace for Tufts was 7:15. 7:15!!!!!!). I decided to use that momentum to take me on another lap around the vila. My last mile was about 7:55; I finished 3.5 miles in 32:27 (9:16/mile).

I put my workout together for my second ALKE Fitness class:

First circuit: Primeiro circuito:

  • 30 squats Trinta Agachamento
  • 20/Vinte full sit ups
  • 10/ Dez push ups

Three times / Tres vezes

Second circuit: Segundo circuito:

Trinta e cinco de segundos Trabalho / quinze segondos de resto

35 seconds of work / 15 seconds of rest

  • Lateral box blasts (using step)
  • Modified burpee
  • Elevated split squat (switch halfway)
  • Up-up-down-downs/navy seals (knees or toes)


Three times / Tres vezes

Third circuit: Terceira circuito:

Stability ball supersets:

Thirty seconds on / thirty seconds off / Trinta segundos de trabalho / trinta segundos resto

  • Planks / Roll outs x3
  • Russian twists / Knee tucks x3
  • Hip bridges / Rev. crunches x3

We finished with a shoudler-arm circuit, sans weight. The women were awesome again. Tonight there were 11 of them, most of them repeats from the night before.

I headed home and cooked spaghetti and sauce again, this time knowing full-well that I was working with tomato paste. It came out pretty good, but I got a little carried away with the spices again. Oops.


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