24.02.2011 - 08.03.2011
It's like returning to a lover....as we approached the quinta, my heart was soaring....the breath-taking Serra da Estrela, still capped with snow in places...and down in the valley a mercurial Rio Zezere...I am back to the place I love.
And then, the honeymoon is over and the hard physical labour on Steve's land begins. HAHAHAHA!! All of my tasks are outdoors, which is great...get to take in some much needed Vitamin D and produce melanin...I have not been this white in my life! Another great bonus - the 3kg or so of excellent French cheese, chocolate, red wine and almond croissants that settled on my stomach and thighs, fell off in the first week!!
Another 2 bright stars enter my orbit - Thomas (aka Herr Hamzter) and Linda from Germany. Hard workers, fun people. One of the highlights of my 2 weeks here was on the 1st Sunday. The sun was shining brightly, a beautiful day to be out and about. Steve took us down to the Zezere for a braai (barbeque for you non-South Africans), some kayaking and....DRUM ROLL.....the Battle of the Rappers. It's a testosterone thing no doubt, men must always challenge each other. This one is going to be blast!!! Hamzter is a lyricist/rapper, Steve (aka Bollocks), a city boy turned farmer.....mmmmmm!! Well my socks were blown off as I was recruited as one of the doobiewallah girls for Bollocks' performance. I couldnt contain my laughter much as Linda and I kept the beat for some really impressive lyrics. The Hamzter responded with a wild and highly descriptive 16 bar song, great breakdown, that reflected the relationship between these 2 men so well! The judges (Linda and Moi) had to rate them out of 5 in 3 very important categories...presentation, lyrical content and...hold your hats....sexiness!! I must add that these results could be the defining moment for the careers of these stars!!! Biased judging??? Of course!! Hamster won, but only by 3 points...Linda clearly thinks he is way more sexy than Bollocks.....judge for yourself from the pics below!!
Now for the purpose of my visit...my quinta..it's what they call a relic or rural house...which basically means an old tumble down stone house that has a conked in roof, no bathroom, some don't even have water laid on to the house...but the one I have fallen in love with is quite awesome. I believe God led me to it...I was walking in thick mist and couldnt see 3 feet in front of me...down a dusty mountain road...the next minute the sun broke through and there it was, calling me!!! I have to find out who the owner is, see if they would be interested in selling and if I can afford to acquire my piece of heaven. Landownership in Portugal is a complex matter...I am not even sure I can trace them. But someone in the village should know, so we are off to precious Laurinda...she knows everyone in the little village. LO & BEHOLD!! The one house is owned by her sister!!! And then the complexity unravels....the 2nd little structure belongs to a cousin, José Augusto. Great!! So how are we going to get in touch with him...it's Sunday...usually a family day, taking Mass. Literally within minutes guess who walks into Laurinda's shop??? You got it!!! José Augusto. Serendipity rules!!! He is only to happy to show us the property. Yaay!! Off we go! And here is where it becomes quite bizarre! Check the photo below...the house on the right belongs to José, the one on left to Esmeralda and the small one behind (you can just see the roof between the other 2 - its actually for the goats!!) to Snr Antonio and his sister in half share, as does the terrace in front. Then the big tree on the top right before the car belongs to Snr Caesar, as well as the 2 olive trees just to its left and a fig tree further down. Now I would like to buy all of this, but it means negotiating with 5 people!! Aaaah...I just love Portugal!!
Don't you loooooove my bathroom...thats the rock pool....crystal clear water surrounded by ferns and other beautiful plants, with a view down to my most favourite body of water...the magnificent Rio Zezere. Now you can understand why I have fallen totally in love with this place!
Did you see the view from my front terrace ...the highest mountains in the country and just out of picture to the right is the highest peak, still covered with a thick layer of snow. Pinch me, please...I am either dreaming or died and gone to Heaven!!!!
I will have to do a little work on the roof and get water into the living area. Brambles are a constant battle on the land here....but the goats should get it sorted in no time...or you could come over and help clear the land for planting vegetables And then it is Lee, her 2 goats, 2 GSDs, some chickens and a cat...the semi-hermit in the mountains...pretty much what I have dreamed of for a looooooong time - heeheeeheheeehehheee!!
The following Sunday is my last in this special place (this time round!!). Steve treats us to another outing - the beautiful Alvaro area, close to Oleiros. A friend owns some property there in a stunning valley with the most amazing terraces, olive trees, waterfalls, Roman bridge...all the stuff that makes the rural area here so appealing to me. It is also part of a sacred pilgrimage route.
So here are just a few random pics of my last few days on Quinta da Vinha...it has been a memorable and happy time...thanks again Steve...hope to see you soon, on my quinta, with rotivator, drill and other useful implements in hand!!
We chose a bad day to head out of town!!! So many bank holidays in Portugal and then everything closes to have a festa...another thing I love about life here...they know how to celebrate and keep traditions!! We arrive in a wet, rainy, windy Oleiros in the middle of the Mardi Gras march. Lots of time to kill as there is no market barbeque today. Some pics of the town...and more.
Adeus belas montanhas ... Eu estarei de volta!!