A special month in a special place.

January 2015

Never in my life I will forget my time in Cacela Velha. This place is so special, so full of beauty and serenity and the light is always different. I love going up on my roof terrace and look at the sleeping village at night, with here and there a soft street light on. Or going down, early in the morning, via the long stairs to the Laguna, where the fisher man are checking their nets for the molluscs or an individual is trying to find his or her evening meal. At the end of the day you can catch the most beautiful sunsets, if you are patient enough to sit for a while on the wall by the church, which overlooks the Laguna. DSC00432

My little house on the corner is situated right in the alley to the graveyard and from my bed I hear the small and noisy motor cycle of the supervisor of the cemetery in the morning. I spent one day just talking with some people in Cacela Velha and they all understand my Spanish and I understand most of their Portuguese, as many words are similar or have something in common.DSC00812

Last week it was busy in Cacela; there was one funeral after the other. That meant that I didn’t get much rest in my house, as the coffins are brought into the cemetery on a very noisy “cart”, with even noisier people behind it. This is the perfect moment to exchange the latest gossip! Now I knew already that everybody wants to be buried here (and have their wedding here), but what happened that suddenly everybody dropped dead? One day I did my evening round and I saw two pictures of dead people on the church door and also a wake took place in a separate room of the church but with the doors all open, so I could see the people sitting around the coffin. I knew that it would be a late and noisy night and an early and noisy morning! Normally the village is car free, but when there is a wake or a funeral, the cars are coming and going until late in the evening.DSC00850

The week after I went for a “stroll” over the cemetery and met the supervisor; a very nice man, whose perfume was the alcohol in his morning coffee………..The cemetery was a mess…..fresh soil dug up, stones left and right still waiting to be placed, flower wreaths in empty holes in the wall, coffins shuffled in the wall, but without a stone in front etc. I asked him if it had been a busy week for him? He admitted that there were too many funerals to handle for a guy alone and that he worked 7 days a week already! I asked him if there are possibilities for cremation in Portugal and he told me there are, but it is only done outside the Province of the Algarve and then later they can DSC00854bring the ashes to Cacela Velha. Of course I asked him why there were so many funerals this week and he shrugged his shoulders while saying ” It was cold”……..Stupid me…….Cold it was this week, very cold for the older Portuguese people, who often don’t have heating in their house, not even a fire place!

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IBN Darraj Al_Qastalli, Poeta natural de Cacela Velha    (958-1030)

Say to spring: Spread out your mantle of clouds and fill the sails with wind over the place.

Don’t stay away. o Spring, as my tears are flowing after you in long waves.

Mix the perfume of my welcome with the moisture of your cloud and sprinkle it on all those whom I love…….

This famous Muslim Poet, born in Portugal, lived for a while in Cacela Velha. Later he moved to Spain. Everywhere you see signs with his name.

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On one of my late afternoon visits to Fabrica to see the sunset and enjoy my glass (well, plastic cup) of red wine, I meet some locals and get to talk with them. Most are fisherman, from whom I learned a lot about their daily life, which is not easy…..hard work for a few euro’s. They get 15 euro’s for a bucket full of clams, which took them a few hours to find! I also meet an architect, who brought his Portuguese water dog. This is the first time that I see a real water dog. It is like a huge poodle, but with a total different head and legs. Lots of “Beattle” hair and therefor you barely can see his/her eyes. The architect tells me that the hair protects the dog from the UV rays. The legs have membranes in between the toes. therefor they are such good swimmers. The body is half covered with thick fur, so they are protected for the cold, but they also can swim fast, as the other half is shaved. They can catch the fish, which the fisherman loose out of their fishing nets. Next time I have to bring my camera, to take a picture of this interesting dog. His “boss” also has the black curly hair and of course I have to make a remark about that! So when I say ”  Usted se parece como el perro o el perro se parece como Usted” (“you look like your dog or your dog looks like you”), the whole crowd starts laughing………….I am thankful he can appreciate the joke; after all, I am the stranger here!

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From Gorgoes to Cacela Velha: Moving day

January the 5th, 2015

Today I am moving to my Paradise, but it is hard to say goodbye to Pasha, the dog. I get attached to the animals, wherever I am………..

The owner of the house in Gorgoes brings me to the airport in Faro, where I will collect my rental car at 11.00 a.m. We make a stop at the bank, as I need 600 euro cash to pay for the rent of the house and other things. After waiting 20 min. in line, the bank employee tells me that they don’t have so much cash!!! I have to take 200 euro out of the machine and then try it again at another machine in another place…….weird……..

I have to collect my rental car at P 4, an assigned parking place for rental cars with a small office, where different local rental agencies help their customers with the paperwork. The bigger car rental companies are situated in the airport itself. For the last weeks I have been comparing rental companies price wise and the local Portuguese agencies were way cheaper. I rented a small car for around 165 euro for the whole month, plus around 10 euro for the highway transponder and another 30 euro for the green card, if you want to go to Spain also.

I get a Mitshubishi Gold and after transferring the luggage and saying goodbye to my “landlord”, I am on my way to Sau Bras de Aportal for a visit to the Vodophone store and some shopping, as In Cacela Velha are no stores. In the Vodophone store I buy a small cell phone for 20 euro with some calling time, that way I can stay in touch with a few people and for emergencies. I also try to get a “hotspot” for my laptop, as I will not have internet in the rental place in Cacela Velha. The nice lady in the store tries to get in working, but my Laptop Vista is getting old and tired and doesn’t like the “hot spot”. First problem!

At the Lidl store I can get another 200 euro out of the machine and after trying it again, I get another 200 euro! At least I have money now!  My car is making a clicking sound when going slow and with all the roundabouts it drives me nuts……..I better call the office (with my new phone) and ask for another car.DSC00534

I have to wait until 5.00 p.m. before I can enter my new home, so I drive to Faro to do some investigation regarding my computer problems and finally head out to Vila Nova de Cacela, to have a late lunch and a big coffee. Then I drive to the other side of the main street, where the entrance is for Cacela Velha.  At this time a day, still tourists are coming to see the sunset over the Laguna, which is amazing. I feel priviliged that I can enjoy the view for a whole month! Later, I have supper in the one and only restaurant there is and although it is far more expensive than the average restaurant in Portugal, the food is excellent and the ambiance also. I meet some people from Belgium and we have a nice chat. They rented for two nights the other house of my landlady. They paid 50 euro a night and I pay 400 euro a month! They didn’t like that…….

It has been a long day and in the next coming days I will have to find a solution for my computer problems and try to change my car.

Renting a place in Paradise!

December 2014

After a few sleepless nights and busy days, trying to find a place to stay for the next month, I finally got some offers from people in the “village”. I made the decision a few days before, to stay in Portugal for a while, as I just love it here. It was impossible to find any more house sits, so I have to rent a place, which isn’t easy. Somebody told me about the lady of a very small supermarket in an even smaller village, close to Gorgoes. She knows everybody and everything! So I went to see her and she is immediately on the phone with her neighbour, and the friend of a neighbour and even with her husband. They all know somebody, who has a rental place. The first visit is to an adorable farmhouse with lots of atmosphere, but with 5 barking dogs in the garden of the house next door. The landlord reassures me that they are indoors during the night. Yeh yeh, in Portugal? I don’t believe it! Very early next morning I have an appointment with a lady in the same neighbourhood, who has a cottage at the side of her house. No privacy, very basic and …….two barking dogs right beside the cottage in a kennel!

A few days ago, I called the owner from the sign “for rent” of the house in Cacela Velha. She tells me that her house is partly rented, but there is also the house of her aunt, right next door. I can rent it for 400 euro a month, including the heating. That is a very reasonable price.DSC00230

I decide to go back to Cacela Velha, to try and meet the people, who are renting this gorgeous little house at the seaside. Coincidentally, they just came back from shopping. People from Guadaloupe (of all places), also exploring Portugal and Spain with the purpose to live there in the near future. As Cacela Velha is situated very close to the border with Spain, it is a perfect spot to explore the Algarve and Andalusia. The guy from Guadaloupe offers kindly to show me the house. It is cute with a very small living room, two bedrooms, a big bathroom, simple kitchen and an enormous rooftop terrace overlooking the sea. The view is something else. The location of the house, right beside the narrow alley to the Cemetary, is also one of a kind! Everything looks Greek to me; white houses with the typical blue (Greek) color. The view of the beach with the lagunas is unbelievable beautiful! I will most certainly enjoy the sunsets here……..The church in the village seems to be a famous spot for weddings. The village of around 15 houses even has a restaurant, which is open for lunch and dinner until 10.00 p.m. From Cacela Velha it is a short drive to my favorite town of Tavira and also very convenient to explore the back country. DSC00288

I make my decision; this place is something else, has good karma and to stay here for a month will be very special.DSC00255

Three Dutch ladies and Christmas in Portugal

December 2014

Just before Christmas, I meet Inge Nijhof, a Dutch artist. I just came down the hill from walking the dog and she tried to get up the hill with her bike. Coincidentally, Inge just arrived with her “bus” from the Netherlands, which she could park on the land of another Dutch lady, Jobs, who lived already for 30 years in Portugal. Inge also owned a camper, left behind during the summer in Portugal and now also parked on the land of Jobs. Her bus was loaded with art work. She even brought some big statues!DSC00250DSC00266DSC00265

Then we met Marlene, a Dutch lady, who owns a Quinta just 5 minutes from my temporary home. In the summer she rents her house out and lives in an enormous tent in her back garden.

The three of us decide to celebrate Christmas Eve together, at Marlene’s cozy place. We are all different personalities, each with our own “history” and reason to be here in Portugal. So instead of being alone with Christmas, I am suddenly with two “soul mates”, which makes it special.

The 25th of December, Inge and I decide to do some sightseeing and have a Christmas lunch to celebrate the festivities. Here in Portugal, Christmas is not such a big celebration. I barely see any decorations, no endless Christmas songs and no crazy shopping spree. Too many people still living in poverty and suffering from the economic crisis.

We decide to go direction Manta Rota, a small village close to the border with Spain, nothing spectacular, but with a beautiful beach. The weather is superb today, one of the warmest days of December. We make a stop in Cacela Velha, as my travel book tells me that this tiny fishing village is on the World Heritage list. So happy we made this stop. Cacela Velha is special and beautiful. The view from high up over the Laguna is amazing. The little white blue fishing houses are Cacela Velha 2picturesque.DSC00233

I see a sign “for rent” on one of the houses close to the stairs, which are going down to the beach. I take a picture of it, as I already know that I would like to spend some more time in Portugal. Probably, the rental price will be way too high, but you always can try………After a walk over the beach, we drive to Manta Rota and find a terrace in the sun, with mainly other Dutch people and here we have a simple Christmas lunch. We think about all our friends, who are spending this day in the cold and we feel good! And after all, it was not a lonely Christmas!