Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Temporary Home Portugal

So here we are, and it has already been over a week. Time flies when you're on the edge of nowhere, watching the weather coming across the distant ridges. We have managed to land at another fantastic viewpoint, high up on a ridge top, looking south west. Our view is of the valley and a small settlement where we pay our water bill, and then some other ridges rising up behind it - all dotted with tall, slim pine trees. The first few days we were here the weather was hot and dry. When the owner of the home said it will get damp and cold we found ourselves doubting that that was true. But she should know, she's lived in this house for three years, and lived in Portugal for seven.

And sure enough, a big stormy wind started to blow a few days ago. First there were a couple of clouds rushing by, then billowing columns that moved across from the west to the east. And when they pass overhead, these clouds drop a fair amount of rain. It must be fall. We've been lighting the wood stove, staying cozy in our new little home.

Every day the farmer next door moves his sheep, sometimes along the road that goes right behind the house, sometimes down below on what must be some of his "grazing" land - although what they graze on is a mystery. We wave to the farmer as often as possible. One day Joshua is hoping to ask if he can help out. They are definitely milk sheep. But our Portuguese will have to improve considerably. A simple conversation with a cashier in town was a blurry jumble to us both.

So, some photos. They do not do the view justice. I cannot capture the depth of the ridges and valleys. Usually the light is too bright in the sky and the camera either bleaches out the clouds and bright blue or it loses all the land in shadow. Oh well.

part of the view

Joshua's workstation (the furniture on the terrace is in high wind formation)

sunrise, which happens after 8am due to the high ridge to the east

another attempt at capturing the view

sunset on a particularly cloud magical day

One wall of the house, the side facing the view, is glass; giant floor to ceiling sliding doors open onto a terrace. The side of the house that faces the street also faces a small pine wood where we've been walking. It feels open and empty and dry compared to the lush, wet, bright green forests we've been in lately.

We walk into town for groceries, about 2kms one way. The cheeses have been amazing, young and aged sheep cheeses that each have their own character.

Queijo fresco, which is somewhere between queso fresco (which we miss) and cottage cheese, is delightful. The stores all have beans in bulk and sell fresh cilantro, which is something we have also missed. We will be able to make proper salsa, beans, and rice. Can you tell we miss Mexican food? Tortillas are the only thing missing. And while there are so many different versions of what seem to be white rice, that is the only grain sold. No quinoa or bulgur here.

Town is north and east of where we are, and we've tried a couple of routes. Pedestrian infrastructure is sadly non-existent. And we've only seen a couple of people on bikes. We had planned to buy a couple of used bikes to use while we are here, but the routes to town aren't that friendly (and very hilly) and so far we're enjoying the walking. Our commitment here is almost exactly three months, so we have some time to learn more. There are taxis for the rainy days when we need to get anywhere, so even though we're a 30 minute walk from town, walking will be our primary mode of transportation.

Where are our bicycles? In Zurich, where they will stay until we go back. The riding will begin again next summer and plans are already forming... we didn't get quite enough touring in this past summer. Gotta buckle down and work hard this winter so we can make up for it next year.

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