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My Journey Called Life in Portugal

My Journey Called Life in Portugal

by Estèl Van Hattem

Little Blond is the name I go by now, since I arrived for the first time in my life in Portugal. Well, that is not totally true, I visited the Lisbon region about twenty years ago. But as much as I like this gorgeous city, which has changed enormous since I was there before, last spring my car was on a mysterious way pulled towards the beautiful Alentejo… and I fell in love immediately! There and then Little Blond was born…

A Bit of a Hermit

The story of Little Blond starts in the east of the Alentejo region, near the border of Spain. Very extreme weather conditions compared to the coast line, hot in the summer -over 40 degrees Celsius- and cold and lots of rain in the wintertime. Nevertheless, this creates a very nice variety of flora and fauna. And even people I might add. You can hike or bike -not really my thing due to much altitude- for hours and not encounter another human being. So more nature and less people. Something I appreciate coming from a small country with more buildings than trees. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the company of people, but a part of me is also a bit of a hermit and I need my ‘peace and quiet’ time. Anyway, in this part of the world, my little person, being blond, stands out. So the name Little Blond was given and taken!

Alentejo Field of flowers

Be Patient, Not Surprised

After some going back and forth Little Blond is living in the Alentejo for seven months now and so far it has been quite a journey. Besides the internal changes she experiences, because of leaving behind friends, family and well known surroundings, gradually the typical -unwritten- Portuguese ways are noticed and more understood.  One thing Little Blond has learned is to be patient and to not be surprised that after several renewed appointments the electrician is there on a different day, but fixes the problem with the water pump without any further delay and as being a part of his service! “Que giro” (how nice) her Portuguese friends would say…

A Smile Speaks a Thousand Words

And yes, the language… ai… although the reading and writing slowly progresses, the words coming out of mouth seems sometimes like Russian -which Little Blond does not speak at all-. Especially when she encounters her sweet and always friendly older neighbour, the goat cheese farmer, on one of her hikes. But maybe that is because of less teeth…  Luckily a smile speaks a thousand words. And trying to express herself the Portuguese will always try to help and encourage her attempt. With no exceptions so far!

The Pace is Such a Relief

But the thing she loves the most, besides the people, nature, more light hours and sun, is the pace. The rhythm of Portuguese life seems to fit more to her own nature. Taking the time for things, not being rushed. What you cannot finish today, you will work on tomorrow. The ‘price’ you pay is that appointments can be delayed, like mentioned before, but what a relief being a former city girl! And because of her love of food, eating and preparing a ‘slowly’ cooked lunch, as well as diner, is like a fest!

Alentejo Open Field

Rain Stress and Beautiful Fields

On the other hand, these last months a new kind of pressure is appearing…  the ‘I need to clean the land today because tomorrow it will rain’- stress. Since it is a part of her job is to clear the land around the Quinta from bushes, grass and very flammable kinds of trees in a short period of time -we all know what enormous fires there were last year, so new prescriptions are need to be met-  But the land was last taken care for ten years ago, so it gives a lot of work. And because of this year’s rain in this region nature is flourishing as never before. So once she is finishes at one end, the grass on the other end is as high as Little Blond herself. So she needs to start all over again. But the sight of fields of flowers and a beautiful sunset during her evening stroll makes it all worth it. Yes, her love for this country grows by the day!


Do you want to read more about Little Blond’s adventures?

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