The phrase keeps going over and over in my mind, “It’s just like riding a bike” as I look at this blank screen before me and think of the months that have gone by since we last posted. Once we get out of the habit of writing and posting every two or so weeks, it gets easier and easier to come up with excuses to put off typing out even a short blog post. Without updates, our friends, family and those of you who follow our blog are left wondering if we fell off the edge of the earth and we receive notes asking, “Is everything okay?”
In January, it was the ‘Portuguese Plague’ that lasted two weeks and wiped out thoughts of welcoming in 2018 with anything but waving a tissue clutched in our damp hands and a chorus of raspy hacks. Having house guests (one of whom stayed healthy enough to send out for groceries and more tissue) meant that our days seemed to go by in a blur. We also made several trips up and down the Algarve coast from Lagos to Albufeira where (more on that in a bit) we were planning to shift our base and trade in an apartment for a house.
The end of January saw me (Anita) packing a suitcase, gulping down last-minute, free-floating anxieties and
clutching hugging Richard while I said goodbye as he’d decided the heat, humidity, dust and smoke from crop-burning in Southeast Asia would compete with the essential act of breathing. And then I set off on my first solo adventure to Vietnam and Cambodia which took care of …
All of February and …
Much of March. Arriving back in Lagos mid-month, we sorted through two years worth of accumulated
crap possessions, all the time thinking wistfully about our three years of full-time travel when we schlepped all our belongings in a suitcase and backpack. With the help of a Volkswagen-size van and two movers, we hauled our inelegantly improvised packing containers of garbage bags, baskets and salvaged boxes up and down the stairs of our apartment building and made the move to a lovely villa we’d found on the outskirts of our new town, Albufeira.
April and May were taken up with settling in and accumulating more stuff (time to relisten to George Carlin’s epic rant about “Stuff”) to increase our comfort level. Dare we mention we discovered the joys of IKEA? We also had several guests pass in and out of our new home (two extra guest rooms) during that time meaning there were lots more reasons to procrastinate rather than attend to our blog.
And now … here we are in mid-June, half of 2018 gone by already, feeling like we’ve gotten a handle on our new home, a new lifestyle (co-housing) and getting to know and pick out our favorite places to grocery shop, wine-and-dine and enjoy the beaches. High season seems to start early in Central Portugal and avoiding crowds has taken priority. This year, we’d planned to stick close to home since that worked so well last summer. After all, if everyone else wants to be in Southern Portugal, maybe we should just hang out here too! Plans however have a way of changing as I’ll make a transatlantic flight at the end of June and again at the end of July to see our son in Denver and ferry our grandson back and forth so that we can introduce him to Portugal and break in his brand-spanking-new passport.
A little more about our new base which we’ll write about in our next post. We’d known for months that our owners in Lagos wanted to reclaim their swanky apartment and put it up for sale, renting it out for short-term holiday lets until they got an offer. We’ve mentioned in previous posts that the Algarve rental market is tight; it can be difficult to find a year-around, one-to-two-bedroom apartment rental in the region now that Portugal has been discovered and is Europe’s new darling. Property managers and landlords make the most money out of the high season – June, July, August – and the shoulder seasons of May and September are becoming ever more popular. Blocks of holiday apartments sit empty for the rest of the year because the rent during the high season can exceed what a year around rental will bring in. Competition is fierce for an affordable rental in the Algarve between all the foreign residents who want to live here as well as the local Portuguese themselves. Like a lot of things that happen in life, sometimes you just need to wait for things to unfold, hope for some serendipity and, in our case anyway, do a little thinking outside the box.
Next Post: “Lagos We Love You but …” or “How the heck did we end up in Albufeira?”
By Anita Oliver and Richard Nash