Olá! Welcome back to Thinking Bold. I have devoted myself to writing a post a week, but; more and more I am finding myself with an impulse to write more often. We have so many experiences to share since moving to Portugal. Given we had let our beloved blog fall to the wayside, I have a lot of catching up to do. So, without further ado, let’s hit the road to Casa Laranja.
Finding Casa Laranja
Finding Casa Laranja was a godsend. We had been searching for a long-term rental, as I mentioned in our previous post. We had a broad search radius, anywhere from the city, to the coast, to the country. Our requirements are not lofty, other than having good internet, electricity and running water. You would think this would make finding a suitable rental easy. Guess again! Our biggest challenge, other than the language barrier, was not having a fiador or guarantor. Jake and I did not have any connections here in Portugal, at least none that knew us well enough to agree to be our guarantor. In fact, we had got so close to the end date on our current Airbnb that we called for an extension. I love many things about Jake, one of them is his drive to find solutions. When he can see that I am stressed, he hunts for a solution to put me at ease. I credit him to finding our lovely home here. With just a few days left, he secured our rental agreement. We could breathe again and begin planning yet another move.
A game of Tetris
I got to tell you, living in a country in which you don’t know the language is a humbling experience. It adds a layer of complexity to everything. Luckily, we did not have too many things to arrange for this move, chiefly a rental van to move our stuff once again. This time around we could pay with our own card, thanks to Bunq. So, to the webs we go! We found a van rental quickly, although it took a good minute to get a person on the phone to confirm. The picture on the confirmation did not look like the van we reserved, however, the gentlemen on the phone assured us it was a van. We knew that it was smaller than our previous rental, but we didn’t realize just how small it was until we arrived at the rental agency to pick it up. It was comical, like laugh out loud comical! It looked like a normal van, cut in half. Packing our small van would be a game of Tetris. I love that game, so challenge accepted! We decided since we were moving and had use of a vehicle, we would go to IKEA and get some nice desks for our new home. When we decided this, we thought we would have a normal-sized van. But we needed proper desks, so we went all in. We made an extra trip to a hardware store for moving straps, rope and bungee cords, willing to do anything to get all of our belongings in or on this van. Success! We packed nearly everything into our small van, with a few items that did not fit. One of them, the Christmas tree. I wish I had taken a picture; I was proud of my packing. It just goes to show you that playing video games is not a complete waste. We finished packing the van and cleaning the house; it was mid-night by now. Time for some shuteye.
Next day arrives, and we waste no time getting on the road. Jake isn’t an early riser, but an excellent sport when I drag him out of bed early to drive. Laika would ride upfront with me. I spent the next two plus hours with Laika at my feet, patting her head with one hand, balancing our plants that we couldn’t leave IKEA without in the other and getting an ab work out to stay steady around the twists and bends in the roads. I was very uncomfortable, but also so happy we were going home, a place we don’t have to leave in a couple months. This feeling trumps all.
Addresses in Portugal, as I have said before, are wonky. Our first attempt to get to our house took us to a road that was not suitable for a van like ours, or any regular car. Thankfully, it didn’t take us long to find another route. Our excitement was building as we approached our new home, I could not wait to get inside and settle in. Our new driveway was just as tricky as the address; it’s very steep. We didn’t make it up on the first try. We needed a running start, so to speak. It was a wet day, a mix of rain and heavy mist, but that didn’t slow us down. Although we arrived, our day was far from over, we didn’t have a car and this place is much further away from a store. Walking was not an option. We needed to stock up on enough groceries to last until we bought a car. We were on limited time with the van so we had to make quick work of unloading our belongings and driving another 30 minutes to the nearest Continente. It was like something you see on a T.V. game show. We each took a cart, ripped the list in half and speed shopped, quickly throwing things in our carts. I don’t know how we did it, but we got all our groceries, delivered them to our door and returned the rental van on time. Uber is not available here, so getting home was a challenge. After spending a few minutes collecting ourselves, we walked to the bus station to find a bus or taxi to get us home. A line of taxis were waiting at the bus terminal. Tired and hungry, we choose the more expensive option and hopped in a taxi.
We are home. With a fire roaring in our little stove and a cozy blanket, we settled in. We would fill the following days with unpacking and organizing and teaching. Jake and I had accomplished a major part of making Portugal our home and that was having a place to hang our hats. With renewed energy, we are ready to take on the next task of gaining our residency.