Looking back over the past 44 days, we have definitely learned many things from our first stop in Portugal.
Upon arrival of our house sitting assignment in Loule, we encountered several days of rain, not just rain but some of the worst rains in European history. The rainy days proved to be a blessing in disguise. We were given the time to unwind from our high strung lives and start to really look at the wonderful world we have around us. Words can’t describe the way it feels to have sold everything you own in Texas and all your “Worldly Possessions” you now carry on your back or as we are discovering in our hearts. Quite humbling to say the least. Realization that life has now been simplified, at least on the materialistic level, allows for a clearer vision of what our future may become. The choice is ours at times exciting and at times scary.
During the first few days of living in a different country, our housesitting owners and new friends helped us acclimate into the culture, at times it often felt like a vacation or holiday more than a lifestyle change. Vacation quickly changes to reality once you are left to tend to the garden, wash some clothes, walk the dogs and begin to start a routine. We still have obligations, they are just a different set of obligations. Often asked, “What do you do all day”, we still work our consulting business, we still remain in contact with friends and family and we explore other cultures by asking lots of questions to the locals. We engage.
One of the things in life we took for granted was technology. The internet can be a useful tool to collect information and knowledge, finding answers/translators to questions like “What did they say?” or “How much is this” is just as important as staying in touch with family and friends which used to seem so simple.
However, there comes the day when you need to make an urgent phone call and technology is not so simple. In the States, we have contracts with phone companies to stay connected. Traveling to foreign countries can limit your accessibility and rack up some big bills if roaming internationally. So how do you overcome these issues? You quickly figure it out that you have to find internet providers like Skype, Viber, Google Chat and Whatsapp. Or you use an unlocked cellular phone. These are super handy, now you just have to know how to make international call. Throw in a (+) sign, add in a few extra numbers or in some cases delete the insignificant zeroes and off you go.
The expression “it’s the little things” – is so true especially when making a phone call. We are learning the ways of the technology world and are refining the process each step of the way. Throw in trying to run a business virtually and you add another level of complexity with time and video calling.
We both love to experience new foods and beverages. Between the two of us, we can collectively spend hours in a grocery store, talking about what something is and how to eat it or how they conjure up their bubbly and non-bubbly beverages. We have discovered that Portuguese wines are some of the best. Each bottle was a new boutique of aromas and tantalizing tastes. Add several types of soft cheeses and Portugal pork to the platter and you are in for a delicious evening.
One of the small challenges we did face quickly was learning what and how much to purchase. When you are on vacation, most of the time, you eat out. When you own/rent a home you purchase the staples of life and add on what you need when you need it. In our situation, we are in a location for a specific amount of time, usually 5-6 weeks, so this does pose some logistical challenges. What and how much to purchase comes into play. We do not have the space to carry it with us nor do we want to overbuy and be wasteful. A really profound awareness of what you eat and how much you eat is a daily discussion, because now you have to also consider how much can you carry home if you do not have a car at the location your staying at (Scotland). We have definitely learned how to eat better, cook more meals at “home” and watch the amounts we purchase. No more runs to Costco or Sam’s Club, for so many reasons – especially the size of the frig or freezer and your backpack.
Part of the reason for our adventure was to experience new parts of the world, meet new people and develop life-long friendships. We had an outstanding outing to “the edge of Europe” aka Sagres, Portugal with some new friends from Portugal – it was a great day of history, exploring and camaraderie.
Engaging in the culture was high on our list and we fully experienced and participated in the Loule’ Carnival during Mardi Gras. We were even pulled into the parade and showered with confetti. We walked the beaches of Almancil, Faro and even explored the ruins of the Algarve Portugal.
What have we learned to enhance and streamline our journey? We are developing lists of what “provisions” we will likely need will for our short-term stays. We are also taking even more time to investigate the best ways to get around a city (buses, trains, and or by foot) and how to use our time to get the maxiumun experience during the time we have at each stay.
We have learned so much from being out on the road for 44 days. We are grateful and truly appreciative for our friends and family who have helped us achieve this dream and have encouraged us to set sail on our journey. We are thankful for the kindness shown to us by our new friends in Portugal, York, Sidmouth, Malaysia, London, and France we look forward to seeing you soon.
There are new destinations to be discovered, new and old friendships to grow, and most importantly an open mind to nurture so we can continue to appreciate the gifts we have be given.