My first days in Portugal

31.july 2017

Yesterday I told you how it was when I arrived in my new homeland and the snake told me to go away from my rented house. Leave us alone, he said. This is our house, and he swayed his tail and head, enjoying the sun and threatening to kill me!


As you can see there are 2 houses connected. One is white and tiny, the other one is ugly and in fact just ruins.

The rented one is the white part. The big one is the ruins. Then you can see the road which is just for one car and the square in front of the house is also tiny. Everything in Podents, then, was tiny.  The snake came from the ruins and he was not the first one. More followed and I lived in fear of them from January until May, when my wonderful apartment was ready.

My apartment is in Penela, a wonderful big one and nothing like what I was offered at the beginning but that is a story for another day.

In this tiny village Podents is a supermarket.


A nice elderly couple ran the market and you could buy some simple things there, like toilet paper and some cheese, you know, this and that every household can  not live without. On the photo above you see the white door beneath the balcony. That’s the market. The couple live upstairs and one day I was invited there. I had cut my finger and was bleeding heavily. The husband took me upstairs and put some bandage on it and also showed me the beautiful apartment. This couple took me under their protecting wings while I suffered in the snake house.

In my rented house, the snake house, there was no telephone. No heating. The house was freezing and the wind blew through a big hole in the bathroom. It never crossed my mind, thank god, that during the big hole in the bathroom I could have been invaded my snakes, not just one, many of them. That did not happen and while living there I did not realise the real danger I was in! Imagine me being killed by snakes in a rented house having  just arrived from China and waiting to find my future home. That would have been something and at least you would not be reading this now.

I arrived on Saturday. On Monday morning there was a knock on my door. The day before I had gone to the Supermarket and bought toilet paper and cheese. Was it the little lady at the door? No, it was not. Outside was a tall man, a really tall one, who told me he was there to take me to Penela.  Who was he? I had no idea. He explained that my landlord was his friend and my real estate agent was his son. Those 2 had decided the lady needed help and it was a good idea to use the time while the son was in Spain to show me Penela and help with some practicalities, like fiscal number, phone, bank account and these things you need where you live.

We went to the camera and I got a fiscal number which was step number one. After having a fiscal number all roads were clear. We bought a phone and I put some money in it. Since there were no busses from Podentes to Penela I needed transport. The owner of one of the coffee shops took care of that. When I needed to go home I would go to the coffee shop and when I needed to leave Podentes I called and they came and picked me up.

Well, calling from Podentes was not quite simple. The problem was SIGNAL or rather lack of it!

I had to leave the snake house, walk up the road, pass the supermarket and somewhere in the middle it was sometimes possible to get a signal. Not always, but sometimes. Several times I went into the supermarket and they helped by letting me use their ordinary phone.


The spot just above the tiny roundabout was the one to use for the wonderful phone.

When in Penela I needed to eat something and found a restaurant. Not too expensive and the food most of the time eatable. Just Portuguese food and there I learned not to like the overcooked totally dead vegetables. Potatoes, a lot of them, with everything. The rice, Oh my, I cant tell you how my heart bled when I saw the rise. I just came from China where we have rice all the time. A properly cooked fluffy white beautiful rice, not this disgusting slimy horrible thing.  I love Chinese food and this was a culture shock. I can tell you that.

When the man was showing me around, on Monday, he told me there were Chinese shops in Penela so I would be able to buy everything I wanted, Chinese. Wonderful, I would be able to get my Chinese tea from there. Right, there are Chinese shops everywhere in Portugal but nothing  Chinese in them. They have loads of all kinds of stuff made in China, Portuguese stuff,  but nothing Chinese.  There are even Chinese restaurants here  and you can get chips there. A blasphemy. There is one Chinese restaurant in Coimbra that makes proper food or rather there WAS. They all adjust. Although in Figueira Da Foz there is one quite good and they have wonderful proper Chinese cousin, not adjusted. Not yet.

After taking me sight seeing the tall man drove me home and my life began. I had a mobile phone but no computer. There was no way for me to connect with my friends in China and let them know I was ok. I had to do something and the solution was around the corner. I just had to find it.

More to come

Hulda Björnsdóttir




Author: ebemiede2

I do blog about different matters that interest me.

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