I was in the hospital – the idiots called !

7th of August 2017

In October last year I broke my shoulder and had an operation.

My car had been a bit sick for some time. He made those strange sounds, like someone was trying to break into it. He had been to the car doctor but nothing seemed to be broken. My mechanics told me to observe when the poor thing made those sounds.

One morning when the last debate was between Hillary and Trump, I woke up at 6 in the morning. I wanted to see the debate. Went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth and did what you do in the morning. On my way from the bathroom I feel and broke my shoulder.

My shoes were to blame for me falling and of course Trump. I was wearing MBT shoes and somehow  stepped back and lost my balance. Since I have got osteoporosis, this was what I could expect. Anyway, I got up and called my vegetable man. He comes once a week and brings organic vegetables. I told him I would not need them this week because I was most likely going to spend some time in the hospital, because I had likely broken something. At that moment I was not sure how bad it was.

Just a normal day.

He called the ambulance for me and the wonderful ambulance people came and took me to the emergency.

It is the shoulder and the upper arm, said the doctor.  I was not happy. The plan was to go to Germany in November and to China early next year. You are not going anywhere, said the doctor. You need to have an operation.

Next day I called my friend and told her what had happened and asked her to bring me some pyjamas and a bit of this and that, things you need if you stay in a hospital. She is a wonderful friend and took care of me during this all.

Well, my car was not happy. I had left it alone and it started screaming. The neighbour called and told me the car was making a terrible noise. A terrible noise and no one could sleep.

My friend went to Penela, took care of the car and everything was ok! To make a long story short, the police took care of the screaming car and they had the keys until I got home from the hospital.

Few hours after I woke up from the operation my phone rang. The neighbour was there. The car is making sound, horrible sounds, he said, and everyone is complaining. Everyone!

I got pissed off. really pissed off. I knew who those EVERYONs were. You can see them in the pictures below.


I could see them, in my mind of course, since I was far away in a hospital bed, full of medicine after an operation. I got mad.

What do you want me to do? I asked. Do you want me to come to Penela and fix the car? I just woke up from the operation as you well know.

No, he said, but everyone is complaining!

Hah. Now I lost it. I told him to call the police, not to call me again, ever, and I hung up.

My rom mates, 7 elderly ladies, and their guests just looked at me like I was from another planet when I started to laugh heartily . I suddenly saw the rumourmongers in Penela not knowing what to do, looking at each other in despair.  One of the guests gave me a banana to calm me down. They thought I had lost it completely and a banana was the solution. They were sweet.

When I came home, 10 days later, one of the wonderful complainers, my wonderful neighbour, who knows everything about everyone, the head rumourmonger, came running out of her house, trying to take my things away from my friend, who had picked me up from the hospital.

I turned to her, the neighbour, and told her in a very CLEAR English, which she does not understand, TO GO AWAY.

My dear friend, she is Portuguese, told the idiot, in Portuguese, that I did not want help!

Few days later I heard a loud discussion outside my window. There was the idiot, trying to get news from one of the neighbours in my condominium, who did not know anything and was not happy about being asked, and did not want to know anything about the foreigners situation.

The idiot has been trying for 6 years to get into my apartment. She is dying to see how I live. How everything is inside. What kind of furniture I have. I have managed to keep her away and she will never enter my house.

The old couple in the photo, the man is the one who called to the hospital, came across me some weeks after I began going  for a walk and stopped me. She grabbed my arm, the one that had been operated. I thought she was going to kill me, it hurt so terribly.  I did not talk to them. I had told the man I did not want to talk to them EVER.  I managed to get free and walked on. The lady stood screaming after me: WE DID NOT CALL THE POLICE.

Idiots. They think I was angry because they called the police.  I told them to call the police. I have no idea who did it, but that was what I wanted them to do. My friend had spoken to the police and left the keys with them so, if my car began to miss me again and cry, they could fix the problem and just disconnect everything.

Some people can not be saved. They are idiots and will always be idiots. During these 10 days, in the hospital, I learned a lot and there are many funny stories to be told, but that’s for another day.

Hulda Björnsdóttir


The quick solutions !

6th of August 2017

We read about all kinds of quick solutions for everything these days.

There is a quick solution for cancer, for overweight, for high blood pressure and it goes on and on and on.

If all those solutions worked we would all be healthy, wouldn’t we?

What makes me furious about all those quick solutions is that they nver talk about side affects.

You can take turmeric or ginger or nuts and other wonderful things, even lemons or oranges but they can have serious side affects.

I’m not going to talk about my health problems but if I eat turmeric I could die. Simple as that.

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To keep healthy you can do a lot, but it takes time. You can exercise and you can make sure the food you eat is healthy.

You can sit down and meditated. Meditation is relaxing and many of our problems nowadays are stress related. I asked my doctor why I have the problems I have? He said it might be hidden stress. I have thought about this and maybe he is right. There are things I never talk about but they are part of my life. My new family doctor asked me if I wanted to talk about my life in Iceland and I said NO. He looked at me and I asked: Do you think I should? He told me it would be good for him to know where I came from so he could figure out the course of what was happening. Well, even though I did not want to, I told him bits and pieces.

When we don´t want to talk about something, but need to get it out, we can write. I have managed to write in my diary, which is just for me, much of the top of iceberg. As in many icebergs there is a huge  clump under the surface. A clump we don´t see but is there. When we are ready a bit of the clump surfaces and it might be time to sit down and write or just meditate.

Writing either by hand or on the computer is a good way. My advise is to write everything that comes to your mind and not read it. Just leave it and move on. Don´t make any corrections. Everything that pops up is what you need and should not be changed. If you write like this for about 30 minutes every day, a miracle happens. You will feel the burdens lifted, slowly but steadily.

Life is not perfect. It won’t ever be perfect. We can move it closer to perfection by enjoying what we have got and  make the most of the moment. We will never be able to please everyone. There will always be people who don´t like you or would like you to be different. Ignore them. Their guilt might be hunting them. Don´t let other peoples guilt, no matter how close they are, control your life.  Remember that you are always doing your best.


I am  a woman of my own. I make my life worth living. I don´t depend on anybody but I love my friends. My friends have stood by me through thick and thin and never let me down.

Hulda Björnsdóttir


Building a house in China

6th of August 2017

Building a house in China can be complicated. It can also be fun.

You find the place where you want to live, and then you find a house, which most likely is still under construction.

The Chinese move mountains. Literally they do. They make islands and lakes around them, all by hand. Well, there are also heavy machines but a lot is done by hand.

My first visit to China was to find a place where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I chose Fuzhou and found some local people who could help me. When you are a foreigner in China you need help. The system is complicated and the language is not easy. There are things only the locals know about, and you need someone you can trust. I was lucky, I found a family that helped me.

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It was mostly the man in the house that helped. The ladies were occupied and anyway it is a mans job to take care of business.

I was invited to their house for lunch and there was a lot of food. A lot of it, as you can see. Fish, shrimps, big shrimps and of course lot of vegetables. I love Chinese food but the fish is full of antibiotics. They swim like kings in the aquariums and you buy one. You have no idea why they look so healthy but the truth is, they are swimming in antibiotics. My stomach was not too happy about this and usually I did not eat fish in my wonderful country. I knew the secret.

What I wanted from the area, which would be my future home, was to be able to see the mountains and a lake would be good as well. I found both. There were 6 islands, manmade of course. Several mountains and the lake just outside my property. Could not be better.

This was a new area, close to the university city that was also being built from scratch.  My house was on island number 6, the smallest one. The bigger ones have houses about 400 square meters big or more. They do show you one of those fully furnished and they are beautiful, but I wanted something smaller, and got it.

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During the construction I came for a visit.

I needed to see my house would not collapse in the next typhoon!

The view was amazing. Clear sky, mountains and the water just outside my garden. What more could I wish for? Nothing, except permanent residence. I was told it would not be a problem. I could teach in the university and everything would be perfect.

Little did I know.

My wonderful Miss Jiang, took care of me. She was my real estate manager. She had my interest at heart. She worried that the builders would cheat on me. Had it not been for my dear Miss Jiang everything could have been a catastrophic situation.


But she was there by my side all the way, until she got pregnant and left her job for one year, to take care of the baby.

In China we are clever. The sun is hot, really hot, and we use umbrellas for protection. Hats are not common, except of course on the caddies and the golf players. Even though everything is a mess, the golfers are out. The golf course is partly around my house and I saw them every day.

Chinese golf is for the rich ones. The really rich ones. Perhaps it is like that everywhere. I did not play golf but watching my country men was fun. They were all men. I have never seen golf like the one they  practised. If the ball ended up in the water it was just left there. The caddies, the ladies in pink, took care of everything.  During the afternoon brake, swimmers went into the water, diving for the little white ones. The same happened in the evening, before dark. There is no golf after 5. I don´t know if the divers could sell the balls or if they just gave them back to the company. I never asked.

If the golfers want to cross the road and you are driving, guess what. You have to stop. The golfers are the lucky ones and you wait.

Hulda Björnsdóttir




Bacalhau, or salted codfish !

I love fresh codfish, but when it has been made into salted one I don´t like it anymore.

In Portugal everyone loves the Bacalhau.  It is expensive, and in this photo you can see the one imported from Iceland. I sneaked to take a photo in the supermarket, which is of course forbidden. You can not take photos there!


When I was a child, codfish was on the table every Saturday. I hated it. It was ugly and there were worms in it. Yuck ! We had potatoes and melted fat to go with it. What a disgusting food. The mouth got sticky and horrible. The taste was there all day long.

When I look at the horrible Bacalhau I can feel the horror. My childhood horror.

Everyone wants me to like the fish. I can´t.

My Portuguese friends, this has nothing to do with you. I love you, I just don´t love the ugly salted codfish, the Bacalhau. The fresh one is wonderful but it´s hard to get one here in the country.

One day I was in the supermarket and there, from the fishmonger’s table, a fresh beautiful codfish smiled at me. Really? Yes, it was there. The price was high, seriously high. They had 2 and I wanted them both.

Do you really want them both? my friend asked.

Yessssssss! I do.

She looked at me and got someone who spoke English, just to make sure she had understood my Portuguese correctly. This was for her somehow too much to swallow. The other lady convinced my friend it was ok to cut the fish and I was not going to back on my word. They don´t cut it, they saw it. I would have preferred to have it in fillets but did not want to confuse them any more.

On my way out, after paying, I saw a friend from the gymnasium, and showed him my wonderful bag, a big bag, full of fresh codfish. Smiling and happy I told him now my life was perfect. He looked at me. He looked at the big bag. He looked at the price. How are you going to cook this? he asked.

How? Just in water, I replied.

My friend looked again at my fish with wonder in his eyes. Perhaps he now realised that the Icelandic woman was nuts!

I went home and had fresh codfish in the freezer for weeks. It felt somehow like a victory! The pressure from my Portuguese lovely people to help me to like codfish is still there. They try and I resist.

Sometimes I can even get dried codfish heads in the market. Oh, that is a story for another day, the dry heads I got here in my new homeland! Even though your imagination is vivid you can´t guess what that is about. I will tell you later.

Hulda Björnsdóttir


My first Chinese New Year

4th of August 2017

I came to China in January. My house was not ready and the first month I spent in a hotel.

On the eve of the New Year I went for a walk around the neighbourhood.

There was something in the air. Everyone looked so happy an the excitement spread from one person to the next. A father walked ahead of me with his son. He was explaining the meaning of the new year to his son. The little boy was maybe 4 years old and I am not sure he understood much of the philosophy, but those 2 walking hand in hand I remember always. The love and comradeship between the father and son shone. This was my first experience of the bond between families in China. The bond that never brakes even though nowadays there is a generation gap.

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The lion got its read ribbon. Decorating the guard was of course necessary on this day.  When I see this one he always seems to be smoking! Smoking while taking care of the house is perhaps not appropriate.

I came across a beautiful florist while taking a turn into a narrow street.  I had to see this one. The decorations are something. The owners were happy to see me and even allowed me take some photos. In China people are not always willing to have their photos taken but I always asked and most of the time I got a big smile and a yes.


This evening it was bitterly cold and I had put on my warmest clothes. The shawl I had made from Icelandic wool some time ago and it kept me warm during those first days, and many more, because my house, when I eventually moved in, was freezing. Absolutely freezing.

After spending some time with the wonderful couple and drinking some tea to warm me I went on. During this time people do leave the cities and go to their home towns to spend the new year with their families. For many it is the only time during the year they can be together. Many younger people work in the cities while the parents live in the villages.  Then there are those who go to universities in other towns and everyone wants to spend the new year with the family. So there were not many people around where I was, but some.

I came across the fireworks shop. That was something. In every country there must be one of those. What would the new year be without fireworks.

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Oh, yes. This is where you can find everything you need and here we are smiling. The young boy is the son. The father is the salesman. They are related to the florists. A big country, China is, but so small! A long and thorough speculation about what to buy, what would be the most exciting and glamorous. Eventually the young men bought a huge cake and it crossed my mind that perhaps I should head home. The fact is that I am terrified of fireworks and don´t like them at all. We did not talk much, the night was young and customers wanted to take a look of the goods.

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Before I managed to get back to the hotel this beautiful young girl came to me and wanted to speak English. The excitement was there. She had already one burning and the sparks tried to catch me. I put on a brave face and we talked a bit. The young Chinese do want to practise their English and I was about the only foreigner in Fuzhou at this time.  This young beautiful girl lived in the neighbourhood, just as the others I saw this evening. Her whole family had moved to Fuzhou, some years ago. They had to because the government wanted their farm for modern houses and golf courses. The families have to move on and adjust in the new environment. Her family runs a small restaurant. They all cook but the father makes the best food, or so she told me and was proud of her parents.

What an evening. My first Chinese new year, a long time ago.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

My first days in Portugal – When I stole the bread from the landlord

4th of August 2017

Every morning, the car who sells the bread comes to Podents, where I spent my first months in the rented snake house.

I had seen him coming and one day I decided to go out and buy some bread in the morning.

The man was nice and he brought fresh bread, all kinds of breads and even cakes. Not expensive and when he arrived he blew the horn and gave the people some time to get out and become a bread customer. Sometimes the same customers and sometimes different ones.

One Saturday morning I was going for a walk. Every time I left the house I opened the door just a fraction,  to see if the snakes were there or not. Most of the time they were not but sometimes they had taken a sunbath in the morning and had a nap afterwards, just outside my door. Those days I did not leave.  This morning no snakes but I  noticed that on my gate there was a bag.

Since it looked safe to go out I  looked inside the bag.  2 small breads smiled at me.

How nice, the bread man had left them for me, without me asking. This was something new! The Portuguese were welcoming the strange foreigner who came all the way from China.

I waited for the bread man to knock on my door and ask for payment, but he never came.

The next time I bought my bread he did not mention it so I thought it was just a gift and said thank you very much. Those days my Portuguese was limited, very limited, but I knew how to say thank you!


These pictures are taken outside my condominium yesterday morning. I went downstairs early, just to take the photo to show you. My neighbours do buy bread every morning and sometimes, when I leave for my morning walk, the men are in their boxers, tiptoeing downstairs to get it before they leave for work. They do need breakfast and this is their first task, I think, in the morning. At least they are not dressed. My next door neighbour looks quite nice and has lost a lot of weight, perhaps working out!

When my landlord, the one who rented me the house in Podentes, and totally ripped me off, came to the snake house one  Sunday morning and knocked on my door, he had a bag in his hand.

A small bag with breads in it!

Right!  I realized what I had done when I took the bag from the gate. I had stolen the bread from my landlord!

I never mentioned it to him. I never told him who ate his bread. I never told him why he was hungry one Sunday morning, not long after I moved in. This is the first time, ever, I mention this. I hope he does not read my blogs. He is probably not a blogger!

Hulda Björnsdóttir

ps. If you get confused when you read my blog telling you about my life in China and then suddenly I go to my life in Portugal and then something else, I want you to keep this in mind. I am a Gemini, a typical one, and jump from one story to the next. You will get used to it and I might even manage to figure out some system, but for now please bear with me. I do realise it is difficult for normal people but I promise you. It is possible.




What a wonderful day !

4th of August 2017

It is such a beautiful day here in Penela and I have to share it with you.

I woke up in the morning, late, after a nightmare, where my best friend had jumped from a house. She thought there were steps  down but nothing was there, just 3 floors down. We were outside. I ran down the stairs, around the house and there she was, standing up. I asked if she was ok. Yes, she said, but then got very pale and wanted to sit down. I was terrified and asked someone to call the ambulance and woke up crying.

What a night!

Thank God I got a message, in real life, from my dear friend on Facebook and at least I knew she was ok and well.

After something like this you need an uplifting moment. Something that takes away the horror of the dream. I went out, and stood on my balcony, as I do in the mornings, absorbing the beauty.


It is like a painting.

The view is stunning. Everything is quiet. The birds are sleeping or at least resting. It is hot, 17 degrees and the sun shines like there is no tomorrow. The clear sky, the blue colour, the shadows and light playing, dancing a soft waltz that seems to last forever.

Sometimes we forget to enjoy the moment. The beauty in front of us is worth more than all the money in the world. On a morning like this, after having a horrible nightmare, I feel nothing but gratitude. Gratitude for being alive and being able to enjoy the paradise in front of my eyes.

I hope you all have a great day.

Hulda Björnsdóttir