Hello and welcome back! The next leg of our journey took us to the charming town of Encarnação, a sleepy little coastal town, close to Ericeira.
We stayed in our Airbnb in Porches for two months. That time went fast in the beginning and at a snail’s pace towards the end. Once we figured out that we would not be staying in Porches, we were ready to get on to the next step. It was the beginning of December, and by this time, the weather was cold, and damper than I have ever experienced. The level of humidity is something no one tells you about when you move here. The windows are literally dripping with water and your bedsheets, if not aired out daily, will be wet. I was not ready for this and felt miserable. We left the Netherlands for more warmth and sunshine, but I felt colder here than I did in the Netherlands. I thought Florida was humid, but this is on an entirely different level. The level of humidity in the air makes the cold feel exponentially colder. It is without question we were excited about hopping in our rental van and cruising the Portuguese countryside for a change in scenery, something to take our minds off the cold.
With the van packed up and our temporary home in Porches all cleaned up, we hit the road. Once again, the address was a little uncertain. Problematic addresses seem to be commonplace in Portugal. We arrived with minor issues, except to the wrong house! There are two houses with the same house number on the same street. Thank goodness for the excellent pictures on Airbnb to guide the way. This Airbnb was much more modern than our place in Porches with decent internet speeds and had more space. The windows were much better here, and this seemed to help with the cold.
Much like our place in Porches, we found ourselves in a secluded location, without a good-sized grocery store within walking distance. Let’s not forget we don’t have a car. Living without a car was effortless in Rotterdam, it didn’t take long to figure out it would not be so effortless in Portugal. We made good use of our van and went to the nearest Continente to stock up on groceries and anything else we may need or want for the next couple of weeks. However, within a few days, I needed something from the store. We scouted out the nearest store, and although small, it provided us with all of our needs. It was quaint, like a Hallmark movie, you know, small-town general store. Perhaps it was because it was Christmastime, and there were little stands in front with stocking stuffer style gifts displayed. I even got to take part in a Christmas game they had at the store and won some of my favorite cookies. It was the perfect place to frequent a few times a week to get groceries and treats.
The small-town of Encarnação was very charming. It is a coastal town with several beaches within a walkable distance. Alongside the coast were farms scattered throughout. It was the best of both worlds for us, the countryside and the seaside in one. When you grow up in a place like Florida, with a densely populated coastline, lined with million-dollar homes, expensive condos, and five-star hotels, this is exceptional to see.
We spent Christmas here and even bought a Christmas tree for the first time since moving to the EU. It was so inviting. I love Christmas, not for the gifts, but for the warmth, colors, and overall lovey feelings at Christmastime. This Christmas we didn’t buy gifts for each other, we don’t do that often. We like experiences better. We went for a walk, not knowing exactly where we would end up. We found ourselves at a beautiful beach. It was not a gift wrapped in a pretty little bow, but it was so beautiful. The sounds, the smells, the sights, you can’t ask for more.
We also spent this time diligently looking for a long-term rental. Finding rentals in Portugal was harder than we expected. Many places here require you to have a fiador or guarantor; this means having a Portuguese citizen that will financially vouch for you. Finding a guarantor is not a straightforward task for two Americans who have zero Portuguese connections. We had to start with getting our tax ID numbers, yet another seemingly simple task. That was anything but simple. We took an Uber to the closest town, and we were immediately met with challenges because we didn’t speak Portuguese. They sent us away until we could return with a translator. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, we found a wonderful man willing to drive 45 minutes to pick us up and then take us another 25 minutes to help translate for us. Not only did he help us with getting our tax ID numbers, but drove us around to several stores looking for a nighttime mouth guard for Jake. I love these chance meetings with kind strangers that remind me how much love still exists in our world. But then again, nearly everyone we have met here in Portugal has been helpful and kind. There are so many more instances of this, including my Uber driver, that made sure I was well taken care of when I had to travel back to the Netherlands to get our Visa stamps.
Over the next two months, we met with realtors and hit up Facebook looking for a long-term rental. Days away from our Airbnb rental expiring, I contacted our host to ask for an extension, for fear we would not find a place in time. Then, just in the nick of time, we got into contact with our current landlords. It was looking like it would be a perfect match. We didn’t need the fiador to rent, and we could move in immediately. It is secluded, with lots of surrounding land and excellent internet. The living arrangements are small, but the quality of life here makes up for it tenfold.
This idea of making a home in Portugal is falling into place. This journey has not been an easy one. We have encountered obstacles along the way, even some resistance. Jake and I never get discouraged by challenges, If anything, we work harder for what we want. Our next stop, Casa Laranja. Our new home!
Our trip here was an adventure. Next week, I will talk about our somewhat crazy ride getting to Casa Laranja.