30th of September 2017
I came to Portugal in January 2011 and it was very cold.
There was no heating in the snake house and during the night I could not sleep. I was paying 600 euros per month for this tiny house and it was not even warm.
Something had to be done. My dun quilt was traveling by post from China to Portugal and it could take some more days. I had put on several clothes during the night but nothing helped.
I needed to find warm pyjamas and the landlord needed to do something. I had been complaining but nothing happened.
One day, after traveling from Podentes to Penela by taxi, I found a shop in the main road that sold all kinds of everything. In this road, which is the Rua de Coimbra, there were many shops in the year 2011. Nowadays many of them have disappeared. Sadly my little village is slowly changing.
I went into this wonderful tiny shop with all kinds of everything. The woman spoke English. These were my first days in the country and of course I did not know much of the language. Almost nothing, to tell the truth.
Did she have warm pyjamas? I asked.
No, she did not have anything big enough for me, I am tall. But she could order them and in 2 days they would be in Penela. Wonderful, I would not freeze to death, just as long as I could survive these 2 days.
This was my beginning. I was in the main road, where all the shops were and the people. During the day, when the sun came out, the shop keepers stood outside. Inside the shops was cold but outside it was wonderful. The sun is amazing.
Anyway, my new friends taught me some words in Portuguese, at least so I could ask politely. I tried and we had fun. Some words the strange tall woman could not pronounce, there was no way she could say Portuguese J. I think that sound is the most difficult in the world. Even Chinese is easier. We had a good laugh and everyone was nice. I told them how much I was paying for the house in Podentes, renting, and they lost their breath.
I was being robbed, they told me.
Well, I needed to find an apartment to buy, as quickly as possible. And I did. Of course I did, but I also needed a car. From Podentes to Penela there was hardly any public transportation and I needed my freedom. I could not leave at 6 in the morning and spend the whole day in the village until the bus travelled to my home late in the afternoon. I needed a car.
When in Podentes there was no way out except by taxi and it was expensive and inconvenient. When in Penela I could keep warm, at least while sitting in the library using their computer. In the snake house there was no internet and no phone. In the snake house I just saw the next door neighbours windows and I came from a beautiful area in China where I could see the mountains and the lake and the trees and the beauty.
And I was even freezing to death in Podentes and the landlord told me to put on more clothes and more blankets on me during the night.
Seriously, there is a limit how much weight you can tolerate around you when in bed.
One day, when I came home, there was a heater, a really small one, just inside the door. The landlord had brought it. Did it help? Not much, it was tiny and the bathroom, oh, the bathroom had a huge round hole in it where the wind blew through like mad. I did not see any snakes going through the hole but the could have. Did the landlord do something about the hole, when I pointed it out to him that I could not survive taking a shower in there and needed to go to the bar to pee? Well, he told me to put some papers in the hole!!!
Yes, it was wonderful living in the snake house in Podentes, something I will most likely never forget, but now, being warm, I can laugh. At the time I could not even cry, the tears would have frozen on my cheeks.