Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Rainy Day

It rained today.  Real rain.  water coming from the sky, inches of it, in a steady rain, sometimes a steady mist to drizzle and others steady hard honest to goodness rain.  It was glorious.  We might have got inches.  Everything smells wonderful, the air is clearer, the plants and animals are happy.  Life is good.  It actually took me a few minutes to figure out what was happening.  I mean I didn't see the rain, I just stared out into the gray, and then realized it was rain.  I sat outside and just sat there watching the rain.  glorious.

My Sister-in-law dropped my nephew Christopher off at the house.  We had a quiet day, with the rain and all.  We read a little while, I started teaching Christopher Beethoven's Symphony No.  7 movement number 2, then we watched a movie, took a walk up to the creek then on to McDs.  Then we walked back, a nice 2 mile walk.  We didn't hurry or dawdle, we just walked and explored and had a lovely time.

We just had pizza, and there might be room for ice cream, and we are watching Gnome and Juliet now.  I may not stay up as late as the 11 year old.  I am tired, I have not been sleeping as well as I need.  Tomorrow it is supposed to be 70% chance of rain, and I am sure that we will find plenty of things to keep ourselves entertained.

Well, here is another day in the life of a trip to Europe with my Dad:  

Saturday, June 25, 2011:  Barcarrota

I slept until 10 this morning, decedent for me, but obviously the late nights and constantly on the go is catching up with me.  Dad and I did not get to Pack y Teresa’s until 11:00.  Today is lunch with Alfonso, the newly re-elected mayor and his lovely wife, Fatima.  They were scheduled to take us to the monastery that has been renovated into a museum, hotel and restaurant.  Unfortunately it involved stairs, so instead they took us to see Elvis.  Yep, Elvis.  No, the rock star is not alive and living in Portugal.  Elvis is a town in Portugal about 45 minutes away from both Barcarotta and Badajoz that has switched hands between countries back and forth over the centuries.  There is a fortress on the east side of town that is fortified on both sides, because of the constant switch back and forth of the country line between Portugal and Spain.  Alfonso picked us up an hour and half later then the schedule, but Spanish time is completely different then the US.  They truly live a slower, less timed life and have no problem putting things off and being flexible about time in general.  It is hard for these time oriented Americans to guess when we should be places. 

Alfonso drove us to Badajoz to pick up his wife, Fatima and then we headed on to Portugal.  A beautiful drive in this agriculture province.  Fatima explained to me that the province is named Extramadura because of the extreme temperatures in summer and winter.  It certainly was true this summer.

The old gates of the city, Badajoz

Fatima had a touch of a bug and honestly I could not believe she was there because she was sick.  Just a 24 hour kind of bug, but she was definitely green around the edges.  She was there because she loves Dad so much. 

We drove past the square with the statue of the fireman: 

on to a little seafood restaurant that is famous for its fabulous traditional food.  We started with fresh cheese, rustic bread instead of the white pan served in Spain and a dish named after the fish in it, Bacalhau.  This is onions, potatoes, bacalhau all scrambled together with eggs.  It is served as a common appetizer or starter course.  It was wonderful.  Then we had clams or cockles in olive oil, garlic and parsley while we waited for the main course, a seafood stew with rice.  Sort of like a soup version of paella.  It had huge chunks of crab and several different kinds and sizes of shrimp.  Again, truly delicious.  For dessert, even though I was stuffed, I had to have flan.  Lunch lasted for hours and we were the last ones to leave as the place was getting ready to close.  As usual my stomach was extended and uncomfortable.  No matter how hard I try to monitor my portions, I just can’t seem to keep from having to say, “no mas”.  So I just waddle to the car and grateful for bringing skirts with room in the waist.

We left Elvis and took the long way home to go past a beautiful little village in Portugal that is on the top of the sierras over looking the Plant River basin.  A huge fortress, completely self contained, bull ring and all, sits at the top of the village with a cathedral at the other end, with all the white casas with the faded red tile roofs nestled safely in between.  I was quickly reminded how some of the Spanish men I know love to drive wherever they are not supposed.  Luis has this quirk, and today we found out that Alfonso also does.  So we drove up to the fortress past all the signs that showed the parking below, he drove to the top so Dad could see it.  This little village has a population of 200 – 300 people with many of the houses and alcoves having been turned into restaurants and tourist shops.  Wares hanging out the doors with the ubiquitous shawls, ceramic plates and post cards.

We jumped out and I took some photos.  The view was glorious.  The river meanders and divides coming back to the main artery spilling into a lake before splitting out and spreading back wandering through the valley.  Then back in the car and more driving through the country side back to Paco y Teresa.  It was a lovely day spent with two of our most beloveds exploring traditional food and ancient villages.

We got home in time for Montana, Barto and Patricia to come and pick us up.  These are such very very special people in our lives, more family then anything else.   First they drove us to their farm.  It is just 20 minutes away from their house in town, so they can keep chickens and grow a lovely little vegetable garden, and have a home away from home.  They are working on finishing the house they have built there.  They have built a smaller building with a kitchen in it that is currently used as a hideaway when they sneak away for the weekend, and a storage shed for their kubota tractor.  It is a lovely place and they have over 150 olive trees that are producing olives they pick for oil, as well as fig and orange trees.  They have a well on their house property and there is an old well with a donkey pole that they will eventually fix to irrigate the olive grove.

 The farm house in progress

 Montana, Patricia and Barto at the gates of their farm

 Old well
 The house in town

The pool, which has been a life saver in these hot days

After our tour, then we drove into town and had dinner at the house there.  Isabelle and Roman came over and we had a wonderful time.  Barto cooked salt water coquinas in olive oil, garlic and  parsley, then he cooked giant shrimp on an electric grill outside.  He laid a metal sheet on top and covered it with rock salt and then cooked the marinated shrimp.  Finally Swordfish steaks.  There was also two tortillas, one traditional potato, the other mushroom.  For dessert there was a choice between flan and strawberry cheese cake.  We got home before 2:00 am after a most wonderful time with such dear wonderful beloveds.  It has been wonderful seeing so many friends this trip, but today was particularly sweet to get to have breakfast with Paco y Teresa and then the rest of the day spent with some of our most favorite people in the whole world.  The whole trip was worth this day, and we still have one more day with our friends.  I am so tired, but this is so worth it.  
So worth it

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