Portugal, it’s time for a chat. I’ve just been kind of hanging out, forlornly navigating the nether realms the last 500 years, but enough is enough. Clearly you need a pep talk.
There was a time when Portugal was great. I mean truly big-time. Harlem Shake? Are you kidding me? At one point in the 16th century, a quarter of the earth’s inhabitants were doing the Lisbon Shimmy – provided they had finished their 15-hour shift of brutal forced labor and yielded sufficient production for the day.
It’s time we recapture our glorious heritage. Do you remember what that even entails? Do you remember what I did? Or to a much lesser extent what Vasco da Gama or Henry the Navigator did?
I’ll tell you what I did. I navigated the crap out of planet earth – not so much for myself or my Spanish paymasters – but for you. I captained a ship that circumnavigated the world so future generations of Portuguese meninos e meninas could have what I never got to enjoy.
I didn’t intrepidly sail around the world with a crew of rough men, eating penguin flippers, dodo bird legs and shoe leather; enduring storms, loneliness and unbelievable hardship for my own benefit. I sailed for you.
My parents died by the time I was 10, so I had to grow up fast. I spent what little time I had exploring, risking it all, advancing, and fighting; until I got speared to death on a remote Philippine island. Do you have any idea what that was like? It was awful. Yet I died a horrific death 8,000 miles from home not for my own gain, but to ensure a glorious future for mother Portugal. The last few hundred years I can’t help but question this decision.
Look at you now: a debt-ridden country bereft of overseas possessions that has had to legalize drugs because everyone is so sad. Clearly this sadness is due to a lack of maritime glory.
I feel we have lost our noble Portuguese identity. We are a land that is smaller than those bobos North Korea, or even the U.S. state of Indiana, yet we have given the world so much. The delight of sardines, the faux hawk – that was totally Cristiano Ronaldo – and Fogo de Chao? You may think of that as more of a Brazil thing, but the way I see it, the riches of Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Goa are yours, Portuguese people.
The spoils of these savage lands are your birthright. In fact, a fellow apparition just informed me that Angola now has better job prospects than our beloved motherland. So there you go. It’s all out there, you need only tap your inner navigator and set sail for a new Portuguese Golden Age.
I exhort you, Portuguese homens e mulheres, recommission the caravels and raise your masts. Plunge your padrões into foreign lands and stake new claims.
Reclaim your birthrate. Rediscover your heritage. Reclaim greatness. For Portugal, for God, for future glory.
- F. Magellan