After spending a week in a real city and in a real country, first thing after touching back down on this simulacrum of a nation, the welcoming card pops up: a pair of human-lumpers (the sort of shoremen that specialize at docking humans like crates), an apparent cross between child and orangutan, gesticulating, hollering; not-so-immediately thereafter, a single queue, served by a single customs official, and the direly familiar protraction until papers are cleared.
Up ahead, past the taxi line - the same taxis that I no longer use, since it became commonplace to be picked by drivers doing over 100 along Lisbon's avenues, and/or flat drunk, turning a different color when gently told to proceed on a 4km ride down to Areeiro, as if every passenger who happened to burst out of LIS were somehow supposed to be headed 50km away to Alverca or Fogueteiro - the subway station takes me in. The Airport Subway Station, which took decades to build and which - lest we forget - would now serve, should José Sócrates' government had its way and deleted this airport, as a hub between the city center and no man's land. The very same government run by Sócrates, the former Lisbon mayor (and current socialist wannabe premier) and the sinister likes of Mário Lino and countless others who are still around.
Along the subway's red line, the stations are empty of People, about whose paramount significance everyone is now talking. Except at Oriente station, close to the purportedly modern and cool Parque das Nações, no more than a handful of People boarded or left the train.
Fine tile works, marble halls all and sundry, archways rising ten metres overhead, a manifold of stairways and escalators, most of the latter now ground to a halt for lack of maintenance and cash-strapped treasuries - mirroring what was done across the entire country in the 1990s, in full blown EU-funded free ride furor, and soon down that same road in full blown euro-consumer credit euphoria.
Roads, speedways and highways where a scant few are now seen to drive, traffic circles topped with an assorted statuary bonanza, swimming pools, urban beaches, interpretive centres, "museological nuclei", an entire paraphernalia of so-called social equipment - many of which of an utterly useless conception, many of which simply abandoned in the meantime.
Such is my contemporary perception of this country, akin to an immense empty station. We do, however, retain savoury foodstuffs and gastronomy, and in truth, a more than fair price for our quality wines. And the Sun. Yet, I find myself at odds with the Sun, for it does not provide my livelihood, nor can it raise my son, and it most certainly will not foot the bill for this year's IRS as it awaits for me to take it from our mailbox - an entire salary's worth to lay down at the gentle behest of the State, in tribute to the Common Good. Whatever.
As for us, all those to whom this or that reason made bound to stay, then let us hold out and wait while doing our best to nurture the ones who will inherit the Debt, showing them a different future out there.