From Porsche to Plough
Not a minute I would have wanted to miss ...
This first morning after the longest night, I get up around seven o'clock. The sun appears on the horizon. From the olive grove, I watch the first rays fall on the mountain on which the fortress of Marvão is built. Such a sunrise goes fast. Marvão is suddenly bathed in full sunlight while I am about three hundred metres below, still in the shade.It promises to be a beautiful winter day. Windless and a bright blue sky.
I have agreed to meet Robert and Joyce. Friends from Holland who decided to move here a year ago and have been here now for almost a week. The winter months are usually flooded with the light of the warm sun here and as soon as it sets, the temperature drops steeply. That temperature difference and the way houses are heated usually takes some getting used to for newcomers from the luxurious North. At least it was for me years ago. Never knew a house could be so cold. Robert and Joyce have a pellet burner that apparently still has to get used to its new owners. So the first evening was freezing cold.
Today I go to Estrela with Joyce. On arrival, I get a tour of the new house. After three days of unpacking boxes and improvising, the house looks cosy and has everything a person needs for a good life. A roof, warmth from the stove, a bathroom and kitchen and even all kinds of luxury appliances that make life easy, such as an oven, washing machine and toaster.
On the way to Estrela - Robert came with us - I explain all sorts of things: that's where the beautician is, the garage, the café and yes, sure enough, there's another café, too. At Estrela it's cosy, I buy fresh beets, cabbage and watercress. Then to the grocer who is the only one in our village selling bags of pellets. Smart to include them in the assortment because pellet burners are the trend. Then we drive to another village for coffee. The terrace has been disbanded for the winter except for the one round stone table with some stools. The regulars sit inside and we sit outside. In the sun.
Afterwards, I drive back home and reminisce about the time Coen and I once started here. In 2005. How did we actually do it? We didn't know anyone, didn't speak the language, didn't know a thing. And it all worked out. When I get out of the car at home, look around our property, see our house and admire Marvão as a beacon of peace and security high on the mountain, I know that following our hearts then, was not even a choice. It was a certainty. Besides, I wouldn't have wanted to miss a minute of our integration process to which a television programme like Place in the Sun could have devoted at least four episodes. But don't worry, the book about it titled From Porsche to Plough will finally arrive in 2024!