The second week flew away. Maybe because the things that last week appeared so new and rum have become normal, familiar and usual, as the days passed.

I have also started to learn some Portuguese words and daily expressions; therefore it’s easier and easier to get in touch with the people I meet every day.

We spent the first few days with the boys of the Lar dos Rapazes, a residence that hosts young men aged between 11 and 19 who have been exposed to risks, danger or any type of maltreatment.

Since the beginning, all the guys – some of which with mental and cognitive illnesses – accepted us as we were already part of their group. Through some clumsy attempts of English speaking, they told us about themselves, inviting us to play with them and cooking all together for the Wednesday evening, the one during the week when all the dishes are up to them. So, they asked me to cook some pasta – maybe just to spent some time together and try to understand each other through an invented and funny language made up of Italian, Portuguese, English and never existed words.

Ana, Fatima and André, the educators taking care of all these guys, or – how it is better to call them – their family, created moreover a bakery competition, inspired by Masterchef Junior program on the TV. So each day ends with a very sweet moment, when we have to taste as judges all the desserts prepared by the participants, giving them a vote.

The distance between their appearance and their pronounced child behaviours seemed so deep to me. As André told me during one of our conversations about the residence, almost all of them have never been babies. Their past experiences and lives didn’t give them the chance to be. So that’s what they are living now: the childhood. Therefore, while the older gifted me with a Dragon ball draw, another embraced a stuffed Pokémon, showing me his favorite ones.

Finally, on Thursday, the amazing Carla brought us to meet the elderly people hosted in Santa Casa da Misericordia de Santarém. Having some jazz background music, we cooked with some of them an orange and mango cake, that will be sold in the bar of the Lar dos Idosos, one of the SCMS’s nursing homes.

Anyway, as we are learning, at the moment you get used to new places, people, smells and habits, it’s already time for another challenge.

Carmen