Hey here’s a little message for HGTV House Hunter’s International viewers who have found my blog! And for any others that have stumbled in accidentally just at this moment: I have just appeared (10:30pm New York Thursday Night Time) on a cable TV show about my search for a house in Portugal. Congratulations to you all and thanks for googling.
I suppose you’re wondering if I am still alive and whether I have built a house yet? Yes and no. But there’s far more to the story than that and every gory detail can be found right here on the blog. In fact, you can start on the epic true story of before I bought the house at the beginning.
Let’s backtrack a little. Bought a house in 2007. I scrapped around for a year applying for building permission, digging holes, planting things to eat, accumulating pets and looking for a builder. Then, come around November 2008, the globalfinancialcrisis tornado hit and over the next 4 months blew away almost half of my money. There was no clicking my heels and wishing I was back in Kansas, or Oz.
The plan then was to sit tight, work hard on the writing and pray for a financial miracle.
I worked hard on the blog, and the blog grew and grew and then grew some more! People became insanely passionate: finding at last a safe place to share their pasteis de nata desires!
But, alas. So far, sharing-the-love of Portugal has not made me rich, nor therefore built me a house. I’ve extended my building licence twice, fortunately because the council people do understand that no one has any money anymore, least of all us foreigners. Portugal was hit very hard by the crisis and will take a long time to recover. But on the other hand, the Portuguese are so familiar with tough times that this is a really nice place to be poorer. A part of this story is how I’ve learned to live on less and how this translates into living a greener, friendlier and healthier life. Caring about the environment might be a by-product of having less money, or it might come from living in the countryside in a less stressed, self-obsessed existence. Whatever the reasons, the alternative life to wanting, consuming and polluting is viable growing here in Portugal, in a strong way driven by the expat community and by switched-on local authorities. Without a cent in the bank, we still feel like we will survive. Hope makes you rich.
But enough about money, love and hope, let’s talk about me. Instead of building I have been adventuring, checking out secret corners of this sunny country and digging below the surface of the big towns. If you’re planning on doing the same, it really pays to shop around for car and/or camper rental, as finding the hidden nooks and beauties of rural Portugal is really better done by private vehicle. Campervan holidays are hugely popular here. As my Portuguese has improved I’ve been able to understand more about the Portuguese psyche, and what makes this country tick. Along the way I´ve been eating, drinking and watching football (that’s soccer just between you and me).
As with any journey, it’s not all roses. Portugal is a bureaucratic country, frustrating to do business in and make an honest buck. Portuguese businesses are way behind when it comes to service, the internet and marketing. And this is the conundrum. We love this place because work does not come first. We love this place because the people aren’t mad with stress and rage. We love this place because it has creativity and originality. It has pride and passion. Like a ruined house, it has beautiful potential.
On the personal front, I’ve had health dramas which I am now almost completely recovered from. My pets, Mao and Wookie, also no strangers to bumps in the road, are also happy, fun and as cuddly as ever. I have fallen madly in love and moved house (and now luxuriate in the sound of a flushing toilet and the hot water that gushes from the kitchen sink). There are rumours of roof building, of annexe finishing and even of surprise weddings…
What more would you like to hear? What piques your curiosity? Why not start in the archive or the category section to read more? Or cruise the gorgeous gallery of photos. Would you like to contribute or get involved somehow? You might be interested in being a sponsor. You can advertise on my blog, and reach thousands of loyal Porty-philes. You can make a donation to keep the wheels oiled and the pets fed, and at the very least you can make comments and share your stories. I’d love to hear from you.
For a speed read of the blog, I recommend:
the most googled:
• portuguese tiramisu icecream
the author’s favourite:
• the day wookie vomited eyes
for more about me in the media:
• emma in the media
and something for you:
• a delicious desktop!