15. Blue Van Woman

Portugal 

I have four children; my second son lives in Portugal.  He bought an old run-down house and an enormous farm and has spent the last four years renovating the house and learning how to look after his land.  And, of course, he has done all this in a foreign language.  The house is now glorious, the old part retained and a new part built on.  It’s full of thriving house plants and adopted cats.  I visit frequently as you might imagine.

When I first started to fly over it was a major expedition.  I started packing a week in advance and was in need of valium for two days before.  I was, I decided, incapable of booking my own tickets and relied on Jon in Portugal to do it for me.  I had to print off my boarding pass and clasp it in my sweaty hands.  My youngest son takes me to the airport and I liked to be there approximately an hour before check in gates opened.

This time – I booked my own tickets on the airline app.  I checked in at home (I now only need an underseat bag) and used the code on my phone to get through security.  This is huge – the sense of achievement is enormous.

I just take a book to make notes in, my laptop and many books to read.  My travel bag has its own see through zip up bag for liquids and multiple slots and pockets so that everything is organized and easily found.   And my biggest observation?  – If you don’t know what to do – just ask.  There are plenty of staff around and they are endlessly patient with whatever question I throw at them.  The people at security – you know – where you put everything dear to you in a box and just pray that it comes out of the tunnel intact?  They are amazing. They are endlessly cheerful and polite.  I made a point of telling their managers how helpful his staff were – he asked me to fill in a form online – which I did – I even got a thank you in reply.

Jon met me when I landed in Porto and the fun began.  Great food, wine and sunshine – what’s not to like.  And my favourite thing of all – the river beaches.  Just imagine swimming in the Douro and lounging on its sandy banks.  Glorious.  It still got cooler as the sun went down and then the toads began their conversations – they chirrup all night – I love the sound.

I’ve been learning Portuguese and I’d rather hoped that I would be able to understand a few words.  However, no one I met said, very slowly, ‘Hello, my name is Sara, what is your name?’ and then left a very large pause whilst I constructed a reply.  Nevertheless, we got by.

I have thought of taking my van over – but having mastered flying – I’m taking the easy (and far cheaper) route for now.  The thought of driving on the other side of the road is a bit scary to be honest.  I love pushing the boundaries – but I do have limits!

And I don’t know the Portuguese for ‘would you like to see inside my van?’

 

Written by Marion, hosted by Carrie 

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