I’m out walking in the rain today because the electricians are here. They’re boring holes into the walls of our hundred year old village house and I’m slightly worried that although the walls are several feet thick, they may eventually come tumbling down with the large channels they are drilling. The electricians are perfectly capable and very pleasant Portuguese guys but we struggle to communicate with each other. I am ashamed to say my Portuguese is still incredibly poor, but they don’t seem annoyed and have left me several bags of lovely big oranges to juice.
After three months in Portugal we are still wrestling with the language. The high light of today is buying the correct amount of cakes at the pastry van which comes into the village every morning much to my delight, and saying good day to the neighbour as she sweeps the front porch. Trying to explain yesterday that we didn’t really want the old live wiring left hanging above the bath was a little complicated, although my husband tried, armed with a dictionary and waving hand gestures. The electrician nodded and agreed with us but left the wiring dangling. It is not earthed. The children were quite excited to see it flash and pop loudly. I’m sure it will be sorted out in time. They seem to know what they are doing.
One day, hurrah, we will have electricity and light in all the rooms. At the moment we have one lamp, computers, kettle and heating going into one unearthed socket. The new washing machine sits waiting for connection in a corner and meanwhile clothes get washed by hand in the bath. For two months we have been using torches in the bathroom at night with some very faint battery lights stuck on the walls. I call this ‘hamping’ as opposed to ‘glamping’. We have no kitchen either so for the moment a washing up bowl and a tap in the old kitchen suffices. Grit and dust is everywhere, in our hair, our mouths and our clothes. When the children complain I explain that this is a precious life experience they should treasure. My son wriggles around on his airbed in disbelief as little bits of plaster fall into his hair.