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Hello! Welcome back to Thinking Bold.

Pepper exploring her new freedom; Sammy still afraid to venture out.

We had a busy week; I had a lot of inspiration on my blog (more to come), which keeps me busy, and our fur babies had some fresh adventures. We decided it was time to add to the family, after settling in at Casa Laranja, and adopted two cats. Several months and lots of begging later, I allowed them outside to explore. Pepper, our black cat, wasted no time getting out and honing her hunting skills. Sammy, our other cat, didn’t share the same enthusiasm. But today, he left the nest and is exploring on his own. Like a mama bird, I am nervous and eager for his return.

The Search Begins

Okay, I caught you up on the little anecdotes of my week, let’s get back to my post. It’s time to share our story of Menina Velha, our first set of wheels in the EU.

It was only our first week here at Casa Laranja and we began hitting up Facebook once again to find a reliable and cheap set of wheels. Given, I know very little about cars, this was another task I handed over to Jake. The universe seems in alignment with us recently, and in no time at all we found our car. It was being sold by a local in our area and by the looks of it, was in good shape. We even got the price down to €700. The gentleman handling the sale was just as accommodating as everyone else that crossed our path since moving here. On our first available day picked us up so we can look at the car. He arrived on time (or mostly on time). That is another common theme in Portugal. They operate on their own time. We hop in, say our hellos and off we go! It was not a long drive, we lucked out and were only a short drive away.

Meeting Menina Velha

We arrive in the parking lot of a junkyard and meet our new ride for the first time. She is old, but well cared for and in good shape. While I am just standing there looking pretty, Jake inspects the car, then suddenly, I feel a little nudge around my knee. I look down and there is a large, friendly dog there waiting for the scratches! This made time pass quickly and the chatter between Jake and Tiago fall out in the distance. It didn’t take long to decide we wanted to move forward, but there was some additional business that needed to take place first; payment, registration and transfer of tags, and insurance. We could handle the payment, but did not know where to begin with the rest. Tiago to the rescue! He escorted us down to the registration office, the bank, then spent more than an hour in his office getting our insurance via an online site. I have to add that the ATM only had €5 bills; we had to pay the entire €700 in 5’s! It was hilarious; I have never had a fatter wad of cash in my life!

16 again

License to Drive (1988) Directed by Greg Beeman Shown from left: Heather Graham (as Mercedes), Corey Haim (as Les Anderson)

When you downsize all of your belongings down to a suitcase and move to the EU, you find more enjoyment in obtaining certain luxuries like a car. Jake and I were both thrilled! We hopped into our new to us, not yet named, car, and hit the road back to Casa Laranja. It was invigorating! The excitement and sense of freedom was like being 16 again and getting into your car for the first time sans mom and dad. Everything felt cool, from the fact that we were driving in our own car in Portugal to our first EU license plate. I know it sounds silly, but we were in a state of bliss.

Come on old girl, you can do it!

As we approach our steep, gravel driveway we give our old car a running start. She is circa 1999, a notable year for me as that is the year I graduated HS. I am not even going to say how old that makes me. You do the math. As we climb up the driveway, I give her a tap and say “Come on old girl, you can do it!” This is where her name comes from. Menina Velha means old girl in Portuguese. It seemed fitting and sounds cute.

Menina Velha

We are beyond happy with this car. She isn’t much and has no AC, but she is ours. We have transportation to get where we need to go. We also made a valuable connection. We would have more run-ins with Tiago, which I will share with you in future posts. Things are looking good for us here and our quality of life is higher than it’s been in a while. We have come so far since we landed in Sweden back in 2017. We have learned that we need little to be happy; we don’t need a fancy new car equipped with seat heaters a. k. a. booter hooters. In fact, it was taking what we had and thought we needed down to nothing that made us realize we are happier with less.

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