Trip Start Nov 27, 2009
147Trip End Ongoing
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Internet access is dicey here (pay per minute dial up - it still exists!) so this morning we've popped further the dirt track to a lovely hotel to use and abuse their wifi for a bit. There is the possibility that we'll lose the connection too, so we'll have to be fairly quick!
So far, staying with our new host Carol, we have pulled a lot of chest high weeds, and made several bonfires (trying desperately not to start a forest fire by igniting the nearby eucalyptus plantation!)
Alex rowed out with another helper to look at the solar pump. They were amused with the volume of water coming into the little boat, and very amused when they realised that the cork floating around the inside of the boat belonged in a bung hole in the bottom! Next dry sunny day, they will be dismantling the control box and hope to find a loose connection or similar easy fix to get water on demand. Rain water collection for now is not a problem though.
Our hopes for a sunny Christmas Day were dashed by thunderstorms and lightning, although the temperatures are very mild so you can stand outside under the veranda in a t-shirt and enjoy the rain sheeting down onto the wonderful, rather wild, trees Carol has in her bit of valley. We had a very English Christmas Day, a great meal with all the trimmings, drink and English Christmas telly! Our poor fellow volunteer, Natalie from North Carolina, was rather perplexed by most of the British comedy she was subjected to....
Boxing Day was hot and sunny, and we had to keep reminding ourselves that it was December 26th
We're staying in Brian whilst we're here, on top of a ridge with beautiful views and a good very steep walk up/down to Carol's house. It's been a little unnerving trying to sleep whilst strong winds rock the van from side to side, and lightning cracks in the next valley but we're just about managing it! Brian is no longer leaking like she once was, thanks to the fibreglass repair stuff given to us by Peter back in France (thank you, Peter!) and thanks also to some heavy silicone-sealant spreading.... A little bit of rain ingress in the back windows is proving manageable, and when we have another sunny day we'll do some more sealing up.
Portugal seems to be a really lovely country, and far more beautiful and varied than the bits of Spain we saw as we drove through (sorry to any Spain-lovers but we've really not seen the good bits yet). As we crossed the border into Portugal, we drove high up into the hills to Marvao, a gorgeous fortified hilltop village with a very atmospheric castle. We were very inspired by the architecture, the open air privy, and the vaulted water cisterna, and by the lack of H&S signs and barriers! The assumption that we would have the common sense not to throw ourselves off the steep walls was very refreshing to see :-)
The Portuguese also seem a very lovely friendly people - we might get stared at but as soon as we make eye contact we get a smile! Lovely.