Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I tried hard to resist, but with the allergy season kicking in and all, my will-power is just not at its best. I gave in to the strings of magnetic field forces attracting my fingers to the keyboard… didn’t even need an inverted glass or a circle of friends holding hands under candle light: my fingers just knew which keys to strike. See? They are doing it right now, as you read it. Don’t believe me? You have the right not to, people can believe whatever they want…

This is why the other day, when someone described “gambuzinos” to me as a real thing, I shouldn’t have laughed. I was the one that should be pitied; I was the one who stopped believing.

I should probably start by explaining, to the non-portuguese who happen to be bored enough to read this, what are gambuzinos. Not sure what is the equivalent in other countries – though I bet it exists – but gambuzinos can be anything. Honest. They can be a fish, they can be a bird, they can have any number of legs or claws, they may fly or swim, they may even talk. They are extremely versatile and abundant in Portugal. They even tend to follow Portuguese around, while they travel around the world.

I bet you’re confused. Well, that’s the point. When you grow up around Portuguese, as soon as you’re old enough to be fooled, you are told about or challenged to set off to hunt gambuzinos. It’s a part of our education. Perhaps gambuzinos were scared away from the rest of Europe by big lights and bright cities, civilization in all its glory and daunting presence. Then they were corned in Portugal, being as they are afraid to venture in the sea. Well, before entering adulthood you must hunt one of these beings. Your choice of place and method is as good as any.

Recently I spoke to someone who not only believed gambuzinos existed but even remembered how to hunt them. Apparently you need a light and a net or a bag that you put close to the floor, opened, next to a river or stream where the grass grows high. You then tell your friend (him being a person who also still trusts people) to wave a stick around and make lots of noise, so the scared gambuzinos run towards you. They’ll see the bag, think it’s a hideout, and go for it. All you have to do is close the bag and bring one home.

I had a good laugh when I heard this story. Made me feel so nostalgic, how sweet is that? I then proceeded to break a nice person’s beautiful illusion and told him “the truth”: gambuzinos are Santa Claus’ pets; they only live in our imagination.

Well, poor sod. I couldn’t be more wrong. They ARE real. They are fish, they can be haunted. I read about them on the internet, so it must be true. Apparently, they are luminescent.