Day 9 – Lost in a department store
Tuesday, 27th June
Yesterday I was reminded of the Percy Jackson novel "The Lightning Thief". In his desperate attempt to save the world from destruction, Percy ends up in a hotel where he forgets all about time. Startled, he realises that he has already been there for a week, even though he is under enormous time pressure because the world is on the brink of complete annihilation. Rick Riordan came up with something like this.
After a strenuous climb, I passed the Amoreiras shopping centre, which is located on a high hilltop and reaches far into the sky. A billboard advertised a 360° panoramic view over Lisbon. That sounded tempting. A cool breeze from inside added to the attraction.
Once inside, I immediately lost my orientation. There is neither time nor space here. The signs inside the department stores' kindly point out where to eat or relieve oneself. Too late I realised that I was getting further lost with every step inside. I was standing in a Venus flytrap. Well, maybe I could enjoy the view first while I was in it.
The plan was good, but futile. The last time, the view terrace had been pointed out in front of Amoreiras, but inside there was no more talk of it. A classic bait-and-switch. Of course, I could have done the obvious thing: Just sit down in a café and wait until the employees went home in the cool evening air. But after only the fourth coffee, I could no longer sit still.
It was getting to be noon. The number of people in the shopping centre increased. I hitched my wagon to the heels of a man who looked Portuguese, hoping he could find his way out. Bravely, I followed my guide into three shops. He had already tried on all the trousers in one shop, slipped into all the available jackets in a second and taken every single shoe from the racks of a third. By now he had already bought a pair of shoelaces. If I continued to follow him, I could no longer guarantee his safety.
So I changed strategy. People were here for a reason: They wanted to cool off.
I looked around. Many people had shoelaces in their hands. I couldn't orientate myself by them. From one direction came shoelacesless people. They clearly had redder heads. I ran towards them. Consistently running against a stream of people requires some concentration. But it was worth it. After a while, I spotted drops of sweat on the ground. It wasn't pretty, but it brought me closer to the exit. Then a rush of heat. It took superhuman strength to resist the impulse to turn back, but my will to get out was stronger.
Sunlight at last. I ran towards it and five minutes later was standing on the pavement in dripping wet clothes. Where was Matthias anyway? Following an intuition, I went back into the hotel. He was lying by the pool with a cool drink, looking very satisfied. After I was lying next to him with the same drink, I also looked pleased.
"I could do with some new shoelaces," Matthias said.
"I know a shop."
Now I can understand why Percy Jackson lost track of time in a hotel. My conclusion: a pool like this is a good place to spend some time alone.