While not everything can be mitigated by preparation alone, still; “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.
Update from Portugal, Quinta Kanimambo, São Cosme e São Damião. May 2013.
E frio! It is cold! Colder than anyone around remember a May ever. But it’s time to party in São Cosme e São Damião anyway, so the church has been playing loud music, doing the BANG fireworks and drummer marching koncert. Even though the rain was pouring down yesterday. Today was better as the sun were shining.
It take around 24 hour to get the house, or at least one room, to a reasonable temperature, so cold and rain sucks! Especially when we arrived at 2 o’Clock saturday night.
What sucks even more is that my mother is down with a seriously bad lung infection. It took it’s cold grab from the plane and she was almost dead from pain, so Sunday noon we found a health center with an acute reception in Arcos De Valdevez. Fortunately they could recieve her and gave her an antibiotic treatment and some painkillers (and something for the coughing). Today we went there agin to have her lungs photografed (a radiografi), and tomorrow we will go see a doctor that will speak to the photos. She is getting a little better, and could even sit outside in the sun for a while today. I hope the sun stays here, since the cols and rain is going to kill her if it continues. But she is getting better.
The new house is progressing. It is not yet finished, but it is now details we are correcting and it is getting really nice. I am looking so much forward to sit inside a warm house and look outside at the rain on the mountains…. sooooo much!
Here’s the view from inside the new house this evening after sunset:
All right then…. my suitcase was packed, I had printed all the needed papers for the flight, the car, the to-do-list and the presents for the neighbours stuffed into the luggage. In the airport I was send to the TAP-office (TAP is the Portuguese airline), cause something was wrong with the ticket. Since the ticket was issued by SATA (- another airline) we had to call them, after 40 minutes on the hotline-queue, we managed to get through. By that time I had a chance to practise my fonetic letters, so I went: My booking reference is Seven-Xray-Echo-Oscar-Juliet-Echo. and handed over the telephone to the TAP agent. The error was on the SATA side, since they had cancelled Nimbus’ ticket but put his name on my ticket then. After yet another slot of time the name was fixed and the TAP agent and I ran to the check-in-counter, but unfortunately the counter was recently closed. The check-in agent were still there, but she did not have authority to overwrite the ticket status, even though she according to procedure should do it when the TAP agent tells her to. She had to call a supervisor, but she could not get through to any supervisor for 15 minutes and by that time it was too late to get on the plain. A pretty angry TAP-agent and a pretty frustrated young check-in agent was arguing who fault it was (in order to add that to the report) and discussed this with the supervisor when she showed up.
Next thing was to get hold of SATA again so they could re-issue my ticket for another plane. Unfortunately the next available seat is saturday evening, but “luck in un-luck” as we say in my language, that is exactly the plane that my mom is on, going to join me in Portugal, so she is happy that we are flying together now.
Back to the airport scenery. At the end of all this they all looked astonished at me, cause I was not freaking out that I did not get on the plane. I was following the development of the scene cause this is exactly what I work with. Service Management. And when we train our service management skills and understanding, we play AIRPORT, cause an airport is a place with a complex infrastructure where a lot of things can go wrong, and you have several different players (like the airport, TAP, SATA etc) who has to play together in order to deliver the service, which is my travel. It was very very interesting, but when I arrived back home with my suitcase, the feeling of dissapointment hit me anyway.
And this morning I was pretty grumpy… I should have been waking up in my house on the mountain this morning. ÆV!
But I’ll travel with my mother Saturday, looking forward to it then.
Well, I’ve better get started, even though I don’t know where to begin. Thats what happens when you get well into things without a documentation strategy from the beginning. But anyhow, I’ll just kind of start from the beginning, and excuse me if it gets a little to detailed or jumpy around.
It basically started during christmas 2011 when we visited Maputo last time. It felt so good to be “home” in an exotic but well known environment and when Nimbus suggested to buy a house in Portugal, I instantly agreed. why not…
So we surfed around the internet, got an idea of the possibilities and quickly agreed that the northern Portugal was our preferred area. The mountains, the stony houses and the slow way of living seemed like the ideal choise. We arranged a trip in February, where the weather forecast annouced “Siberian temperatures all over Europe”, and indeed it was. We looked at a Quinta (houseman-place) in the mountains close to the national park called Peneda Gêres, which had 2 houses, one which was partly liveable (water in/out, electricity, walls and roof) and another more rural with no water in/out, also build in stone. almost 4.000 m2 in terraces, 7 km outside a medium size province called Arcos De Valdevez. First and only house we looked at and it fitted our idea of a recidence, so we hit the buy-button and started the process of making it ours.
In April we had progressed to the stage of signing the final contract and just as we were about to travel to Portugal to sign the papers a smaller problem occured. The 5 owners of the house had signed the papers but unfortunately one of the siblings that owned the house had the Downs syndrome and was not authorized to sign the papers without the local court interferring. It came as a sort of relief, since the process had been running almost too smoothly untill then, and we expected something to be wrong. Here it came…. The portuguese legal system!
Anyhow we went as planned and we informally took over the place, got the keys and arrived at the premises where the neighbour-women in their black catholic dresses had gathered to welcome us. We did bring sleeping bags, a camping stove and a few other surviving nessecities and slept over in the authentic stone house, which we tried to warm up with a bag of candles and several bottles of the local wine. Cold it was indeed, but we felt safe and liked the houses, the area and the sourroundings, even though the sounds were new, dogs barking, water running in the river and the local church making noise.
By June the buying process hadn’t yet come to an end, and the house were not yet ours by the paper, but we went to spent our summer holiday with kids, and friends and family visiting. We believed things to come out allright in the end, and during our summerholiday, actually on our 10 years anniversary wedding day, we had a call from our local contact, that the papers were finally signed and the contract – the house - was ours.
We entered the next level in the game, to re-build the oldest of the houses to be a whole-year-house.
Loads of stuff happened meanwhile, like we discovered that the 3-houses-away neighbours was the sweetest danish couple you could possible find, that the area is inhabited by great old friends during the summer time, that wild horses from the national park feeds on the hill sides, including our area, that the locals actually do understand our simple spoken portuguese and a terrible tragic story of a friend ended up in us inheriting loads of the stuff we needed in our new place.
It’s end of October and we are here again, stock to the neck in building materials, drawings, sweet neighbours sharing their vegetables, offended neighbours filing complaints about our building project, dogs, cats, wine, apples, chestnuts and coffee. It’s cold during the nigh and mornings, since our ground is facing North, but then it gets nice and warm after midday and during the afternoon. We are here to inspect the building project and to test if it is possible to “work from home” at our quinta in Minho, São Cosme e São Damião, as the village is called…. and it is.
OK-OK… that was the beginning untill now. Stay tuned for shorter updates. Now you know why we are here, and if you still wonder: Why Portugal? – It’s basically since we speak Portuguese. – and still practising….
Nex thing I finally pulled myself together to effectuate, is to quit the submission to the danish church. Since I am not a christian and I don’t believe in the whole God-thing, it is the next natural step in order to trim the continous expenses in the budget related to the church tax. In 2011 I payed 2.607,90 dkk, but that is over now.
Since we bought the place in Portugal, we have started renovating the upper house so it is possible to stay over in colder periods, like autumn, winter and spring. “We” are…. not “we”, as in the Schmidt-Poulsen-m.fl. family, but some local workers who knows what they are doing. However, things are moving faster than we expected, and the plan needs to be fed money. Even though it is relatively little money, in respect to the result, it is still pretty mutch for our economy, so we have started a trimming-the-budget project. First we pick the low hanging fruits, as to speak. It is quite funny so far, so I want to share our initiatives, for inspiration maybe.
Monday: Cut away the data subscription on the mobile telephones.
Tuesday: Removed the Viasat (x-tra film channels) package from the television.
Wednesday: Unsubscribe Nimbus from the health insurance from Katjas work (since he is now covered from his own work heslt insurance)
Thursday: new interesting initiatives coming up… see you tomorrow!
Avid followers of our little family blog should havde observed by now that we’ve bought a little house (or rather plenty of land with a couple of functional and charming stone houses on it). This summer marked the first of hopefully many summers spent there.
Those of you well-acquainted with the Danish summer will know that there are no guaranties of great weather and all-day sun. For a sun&heat-seeker like me it was a relieve to go to Portugal, which was over-flowing with exactly that. Things were off to a good start.
When you go to a place where you have not been before, the safest approach is always to expect as little as possible. Thus, I’d done just so when it came to this particular place to avoid risking dissapointment. However, there was nothing to be dissapointed about. Even at night, the stars help to enlighten a beautiful view and the night was warm enough for us to sit under the vines, while processing the (several hours delayed) flight.
To be honest, I was quite lucky. As I came a week later than the rest of the VHG26-family and brought visitors with me, I missed out on a lot of the hard work and came to a very (paraphrashing Katja) ‘upgraded house’. I send my warm and sincere thanks to Aske, Katja and Nimbus
Portugal was a cornucopia of great experiences and with a lot of that typical “summer holiday feeling” that you need after a year of work – especially if t the winter in Denmark has been as it tend to be: Cold and dark. it makes you bitter and winter depression is not an unknown term for the Danes. Therefore, summer holidays in the South are always welcome – and yes, even if you’ve been in Mozambique half of that winter, you still enjoy the Portuguese summer a lot!
And what did we do? We went to the beach in Viggo, Spain. Swam and sunbathed at the adjacent river beach (Bar do Rio – which proved to be a place of not only swimming but also ice cream, tuna sandwiches and coffee). Went to a spa (I realise there is sort of a water theme here). Occassionally, we even found time to do some work on the house. Like painting, taking down an old hen house and tear down the bathroom attic (I’ll let Katja and my dad expand on that since they were the main participants and have photo documentation).
Of course, I also found time for horseback riding. Riding in the mountains is extraordinary. The view is breathtaking (sorry for the clichés but they are very accurate) and the horses and guide impressed me in their abilities to get up and down steep slopes without showing the least bit of unsteadieness – that is more than I could’ve done for sure.
So all in all, A wonderful trip. This time we had the honour of two visiting groups: The Voodoo Man family and Henrik with Kids. We cannot wait to see more friends and family in our new Portuguese home the following years. This family is a family of many homes. It’s simply fantastic.
Follow this blog and author for the next exciting story that will (probably – I never make promises) feature my experiences at Roskilde University (I start next week – Wish me luck!)
Special feature: Gris
A new member has worked its way into our big (and open-minded – you’re welcome whether you’re male, female, animal or alien) VHG26 family and we quickly grabbed this opportunity to begin a series of special features on the lesser known family members – so stay tuned, the features will pop up now and then when you least excpect it!
This newest family makes a dashing first impression and to describe his physique, you cannot steer clear of words like ‘handsome’, ‘black’ and ‘muscular’. He is, in short, the family hunk.
But he is more than that. Rarely have i met such a good fella. An optimistic and jolly guy full of life and energy. He so enlightens the atmosphere with his little “øf øf” that we cannot imagine how we ever went without him…
So say hello to …. GRIS!
Vil du slå det op på google maps, så indsæt disse koordinater:
Til din GPS virker måske een af disse koordinater:
N 42 53.882 / W 8 25.747 eller N 41 53.52.8 / W 008 25 44.6
Fra Porto kører du til Vienna De Costello og drejer af mod Ponte de Lima. Fortsæt til Ponte De Barca og videre til Arcos de Valdevez. Kør igennem Arcos De Valdevez og ud af byen i retning Moncão (N 101). Du passerer en tankstation. Cirka 3,5 km fra Arcos De Valdevez kommer der et kryds med et skilt mod en kirke til venstre og en lille vej mod højre som du skal ned af. Vejen er næsten skjult af en høj mur på højre hånd fordi den ligger i et sving. Så hold godt øje med den, på højre side.
Kør ned af den lille vej og fortsæt til du kommer til en smal bro over floden. Bemærk at der kun kan køre en bil af gangen, så vent og giv plads til evt modkørende. På den anden side ligger ”Bar Do Rio” mærk dig stedet for her vil du sikkert gerne tilbage og bade når det er varmt.
Fortsæt af vejen til den ender i et T-kryds. Drej til venstre.
Kør et par kilometer til du kommer til cafeen Zebra og lige efter møder dette skilt på højre hånd:
Drej til højre ved dette skilt:
Når du ser den røde låge, drej til venstre. Det ér en smal vej
Du er kommet frem når du møder denne runde stenmur og den grønne låge.
I alt ligger huset ca 6-7 kilometer fra Arcos de Valdevez, så hvis du kører meget længere end det, er du kommet for langt. Prøv da igen eller ring.
Vores telefonnummer i Portugal er:
+351 964 516 518
+45 60 25 34 27
This blog is for most parts about what Mozambique is and what it isn’t. We’ve shared our experiences from the safari parks, border, work places and so on. But all good comes to an end and we’re back in Denmark. I, Personally, returned in January.
Denmark is home but living abroad changes your look on your home country; makes you value some things and miss others. Sometimes it even brings you closer to answer the big question: What is Denmark?
And here it is. My personal Denmark:
1. The all-important stuff: we have an amazing health care system, minimum corruption and free educationeveryone is entitled more than one chance to break free of their social heritage. Not saying that everyone is a 100 % equal or that you’ll never meet injustice in DK. This exists everywhere but in Denmark we are exceptionally lucky.
In Mozambique I did not necessarily trust the police. Every time you saw them you feared a struggle. Maybe they’d ask for your ID that you’d hopefully remembered. Maybe they’d claim you’d broken some law that you most certainly didn’t realise breaking. And they could be bought. How can you trust someone who you know are that easily swayed by money? Not everyone in Denmark favour the police – and I am sure even the policemen make mistakes – that is a trait of the human being after all. But here I do not fear meeting them and I trust that they try keeping the peace instead of just striving to get more money.
Some survey has declared that the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world. I will not argue whether that is true or not. But one thing Denmark is, is safety. And being safe is a good foundation for being happy.
2. The little tiny things: When I return to Denmark, some of the first things I do is buy some good liqourice, eat some dark bread and maybe I even drink a glass of milk while I turn on the TV and relax on the couch. It’s the smallest things that can make you feel home. Those little things that you take for granted when you’re home and miss terribly when you’re away.
These are the reasons we all get somewhat more aware of our national heritage when we live abroad. Let me give you an example: I have never really attended a so-called “julefrokost” (christmas lunch) in Denmark. At least not one with as much attention to the food traditions as the one I attended at the Danish residency in Mozambique. It seems somewhat absurd to eat risalamande and christmas cookies when it’s 30 degrees outside. But we do because we need that special home feeling in a place where everything is somewhat different from what we’re used to.
Denmark is the little traditions I can’t help but want and enjoy.
3. Those people: Of course, some things matter even more than all our privileges and little weird traditions. The one thing that always makes me want to return is the people waiting for me at home. So for me Denmark is most of all the people I know and cherish.
Returning in January to a freezing cold Danish winter is not a dance on roses. But then you meet up with some friends and family, get a job and get into that everyday rhythm and everything is not so bad after all.