Bom Dia!

Trip Start Nov 27, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Portugal  , Alentejo,
Monday, December 28, 2009

Believe it or not, we're in Portugal! Brian actually made it over 1000 miles down through France, through the middle of Spain, and on into Portugal to bring us here to our next destination, the side of a valley 5km down a dirt track and 10km from the nearest village. It's lovely and remote. Power is all solar generated, and water is pumped up from the lake below (when the pump is working that is...).

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!). We've been digging holes, and making rain ditches, and walked up and down a very steep hill several times a day to check on water tank levels (Carol's solar water pump is having problems). But it's been raining A LOT which makes it difficult to work outside.

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 worked amongst the weeds in the morning, and then drove about an hour to the Algarve to catch a film that evening (Avatar, very good!).

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.  
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darren on

Hey loving uur work sexy ladies of the algarve. cold here but crisp cold not windy cold. Ur ears must be burning was talkign about u yesterday with Jean opposite. She asked about you as got confused when she heard Lara (laura's at Pete's she said where's alex?) is staying at Pete's cat sitting. jean has Xmas day dinner in the sell y pak tavern and said it was fab!
Glad u ventured to civilisation to see Avatar. Ms Weaver is even beautiful blue huh?! ;) Be safe, have lush NYE, tell brian i miss him next to me at nite X on

Well,what a great time you seem to be having even if you have been doing lots of physicals!! The views are amazing it looks a very beautiful country I will have to visit one day, put it on my long list. Brian certainly did well and is proving to be home from home. Christmas is long gone, looking forward to a little gathering tomorrow night, the usual lot. Dad sends his love and I send big hugs and wish you both a very HAPPY NEW YEAR XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX PS. Pleased to hear you found a dog!!

Debbie on

Please to read you arrived safe and well and that you appear to still beliving the dream. Photos are great - spider was vile!
I hope 2010 is a relaxed, contented and healthy one.
Much hugs

Pat and Les on

Glad Brian is behaving and your trip looks fantastic Love the spider Happy new Year and happy travelling Love yto you both Pat and Les

Liz on

Hi to you both. So glad you're in sunnier climes than here; you'll laugh to here that it's been below freezing and 10cm deep in snow for nearly a week now. The good thing is that I haven't been able to get to work since the road froze. I'm so jealous of all the great outdoorsy things you've been doing. It looks wonderful. Three cheers for Brian!

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