More than six years ago I mowed to Portugal from China. I did not want to but I had to. My beautiful house in China, my car and everything had to go. The government did not want me, they just wanted my money and I could not get permanent residence and live in my house and use my car. No problem buying the house and all I needed. Selling the house was another story. Everything was done to make it difficult for me. Of course I was a foreigner. I love my Chinese friends and my wonderful students. My neighbours were amazing and the fellow teachers did everything to make my life as wonderful as possible. It was just the government that was the hindrance.
I chose Portugal for my final destination because it got high recommendation as a country for retirement. I did a lot of research and found the big city in central Portugal, Penela. and there I was going to live. On the internet it is not the same as in real life. It does not have 6.500 people living there. O no. In Penela there are about 500 people but rest lives in the municipal .
What is a municipal? It is the village Penela and several other small places i.e. a town or district that has local government. The district has a population of about 6.500 people not the village.
Little did I know when I came here.
I found on the internet a small house in Penela. I did not want to rent a big apartment because there would be a lot of cleaning. I hate cleaning. It is so useless and the dirt always comes again. One of the tasks you do again and again but never see the final results. No, I was not going to spend my time cleaning a 5 rooms apartment. I found this house with one bedroom, kitchen and a living room. Looked good. I asked my real estate agent if the house would be a good idea and he told me YES.
I needed an address to send a few boxes to. Because I could not send anything out of China, since I was not a resident, I gave everything, or almost everything, but there were few very personal things I wanted to keep and those needed a home in Portugal.
I was told the rent was 600 Euros per month, a very good price! Little did I know. I accepted and began sending my parcels through China post. 2 parcels at a time. So far so good.
The flight and stop over and everything took 48 hours. I left Fuzhou and arrived in Lisboa 48 hours later. Lacking sleep and tired to death with my 3 suitcases I found a taxi that was willing to drive me to Penela. I paid the fare in advance.
He was nice. We chatted and he told me few things about the culture in my new homeland. Really nice man. We did not get lost. Had a good description from the real estate agent and after a bit more than 2 hours drive we arrived in Penela. Well, we had the address of the estate manager. No one there. Everything closed. We called. He was in Spain. When would he be back? After 5 days, more or less. My god. I was there. Did not have a home and the person who was going to take care of everything was in another country. He was a Britt! Well, the man told us to wait. He would call the owner. We waited, me and the taxi driver. If it had not been for the taxi driver I might have lost it and screamed at someone but he was calm and told me everything would be ok. I needed a place to sleep. I was collapsing. We tried to find a hotel in the village. Managed to find one but could not drive to the entrance. Decided to wait for another call.
Eventually a man came driving a truck that could be from the last century. He spoke to as and this was the landlord. Obviously he just woke up from his afternoon nap and had a biscuit before picking up the lady. His teeth were really full of biscuits !
I took a deep breath, something was happening and I would be in a bed very soon.
The man told us to follow him. We did. I said to the taxi driver that this looked quite far away from Penela, when we had been driving for 8 minutes. I will not be able to walk to the centre. No, you wont, my driver agreed. After 15 minutes walk we finally arrived. This was not in Penela. I could not walk to the village and there are no busses. Seriously, This looked BAD, really BAD.
The owner told us to wait. The house had not been cleaned and now he needed someone to clean. 2 ladies came. We, me and the driver, stood there in the terrible heat. I was numb. The owner showed us his vine cellar. He turned out to be a big vine maker and the fabric was beneath the apartment. Huge equipment there. I am not a vine fan. Don’t ever drink and have no interest at all in red and white and whatever. My driver was interested. The owner gave us 2 bottles, one white and one read. Did I want it ? NO but since I can sometimes be polite, I accepted.
Before the ladies came to clean my driver put my heavy suitcases into the house.
I was invited to have a look at the house, before my suitcases got inside so I went to the gate and opened it.
Dear God. There, in trap number 4, was a huge snake!
I froze. I looked at the owner and said with a hiccup : THERE IS A SNAKE !
He looked at me and said: Don’t worry!
How could I not worry? There was a snake waiting for me, telling me to go away from his property.
Oh, its nothing said the owner again. They come from the other building.
The other building? That building is connected to the one I was going to live in.
I almost died.
I was terrified, had not slept 48 hours and the good forsaken snake moved closer to me.
The owner took a stick and put it inside the curly snake, throwing it away. There you see, he said, no problem, it´s gone!
After a while the cleaning was over. I could go inside, the driver said good by and I went to sleep. What a reception I got.