Monday, 3 December 2007

Life, parties, markets, Oleiros. By Josh

The past few weeks have been great. We’ve been gardening, on the internet every day looking for mosaic makers and suppliers, the best type of horses to get (we think we should get the Lusitano aka: the wind and pride of Portugal, and the Peruvian Paso: bred for working the land and carrying heavy loads. Considering they are both 14-15.5 hands I would say that they should be top of the list since we have two six-foot-something guys with us and Ellie is supposed to be 6ft 4” and I’m supposed to be 6ft 6”) and have found some local suppliers. We have our tools (sickle, clippers, mini shovel and fork the only thing we need is a chainsaw to cut down the dying fig tree in our courtyard) and we are searching LOCALLY for tractor suppliers and 4x4 suppliers (quatro by quatro as they say here in Portugal). We have had our first proper conversations (Ellie and I get one word every 10 which is enough to put a sentence together and no matter how many times we say ‘mais devagar por favor’ they never slow down, it’s even harder now we have the accent and I look so Portuguese). So far we love it here and there is a new surprise every day.

My vocabulary is small but I understand the difficult words and many of the words are similar to English words (name=nom) and Italian words (Portuguese is Latin slang). 2 in 3 people speak French and I can spot it when someone switches language after spending 4 weeks in France so the sentences eventually piece together. It’s great learning the language. Mummy says that when I go to sleep my mouth is in a permanent pout because Portuguese is all ‘shushes’ and ‘ão’s’ (pronounced like ow!) it is definitely one of the romance languages. Every day I’m learning at least one new word or verb (we have tackled the hardest one ‘to be’ but frustratingly there are three verbs for ‘to be’ in Portuguese) which is difficult. I think Moses speaks the most Portuguese because the amount of people that come up to him and say ‘oh bonito!’ and speak at the speed of light must be about 50 billion a day.

We can trust everyone in Olieros like family; we leave our bikes outside the café in Amieira, we park our motor home outside the school or the gym, everyone knows us since everyone in the council are our friends. Every Tuesday there is a market which is really cool because everybody shouts out and rings bells to draw people’s attention so it gives it a feel of those old English Medieval movies. Olieros is our home. It has a fountain ten times too big for the town with a park that is 20m² that looks like it is there to soak up all the spray from the fountain. The funniest part is when all the sprinklers turn on and miss the plants completely, when they turn off though the cars are all sparkling. Olieros is like one of those villages that you see in cheesy T.V. shows. It has a butcher a baker and a candle stick maker (I’m not sure about this last one but it makes it sound good). Since it’s a farming village it has a ratio of 10:1 of bars and houses and the restaurants are full of beef, pork and chicken (I bet you that if fairytales could include bars and loads of meat they would). Olieros has everything we farmers need. It even has a good clothes shop and the market has the best jeans and jumpers I’ve ever worn. Olieros is known for its school (it’s so good the one in Amieira has gone out of business) and its children in fact we are visiting it today (the last half of this blog will be written after we go to the school). Yes, Olieros is perfect. Everyone knows us and everyone loves us and visa versa. What can you say? It’s Family.

Part II

A new adventure comes every minute it seems. An hour ago we took a 10 year old 4x4 out for a drive. Eventually we found out that Mummy was going to have to drive. Mummy had never driven a manual before so it was either the 3m (9ft) 4x4 or the 8m (26ft) 4.5 tonne motor home so she chose the mosiemobile mark II.

We bought the 4x4 from a place just out of Olieros (I said locally) and drove off. Although mummy had not driven a car (let alone a left-hand-drive manual 4x4 on the right side of the road) in 6 months I almost fell asleep if it wasn’t for the incessant panting mixed with the I-need-oil kind of squeak. My mother drove so well for a beginner (it was probably the smoothest drive I had since London!) that I actually thought dad was driving (the only way I remembered mummy was driving was the dad goes 30kmph to fast). The only bit that made her jump was when a coach was coming round the corner (in Amieira¿!?¡) so she had to reverse (well this was a tough first lesson) up the hill. I am very proud of my mother but she will give you the more detailed part of the story.

We entered yet another dinner with no camera and my friend João (there are many João’s in Portugal) gave us a tour round the school. The first thing we all noticed was that the classrooms were all spotless. The cleaners said that they’re like that all day and that they are just employed to sweep and mop. After that we ate……and ate……and ate……and ate…….and ate……and……then sat round watching castanhos (sweet chestnuts) roast.

Everyone wants an excuse to have a party (we haven’t had one yet but on Friday we’re introducing engagement parties to Olieros for Sara, our angel, and Antonio; the next pictures were added after the party), Whether it’s because somebody has been given thousands of castanhos (normally the reason) or whether it’s because some strange English people have come to a little town -which maps only show if they’ve been made there- to live. Olieros is the party town (dad nicked that from this blog) and that is something that should make it map worthy.

We’ve rented a little house on the outskirts of Olieros (Olierosers don’t believe that it has outskirts and that it just fades away) and I’m sleeping on the floor (it feels strange trying to sleep in a bed) in a really cool camping type bed. We have a huge open fire that heats the whole house up only when it’s on (we experimented and found that orange peel, banana skins and flies all burn, BURN, BURN!!!!!). The lady bought a washing machine (that’s already packed up and gone away after a week) a really nice leather sofa and a 50 year old Hoover and a brand new toaster. We have already made use of the bookshelves and are making it home.
Life is absolutely great here. Parties=Olieros, social life=Olieros and to Olierosers, Portugal=Olieros. Olieros=a good life.

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