Sorry for the hiatus. We’ve been tied up with work. Just the usual stuff: baby-sitting, cleaning wine tanks, farming, feeding chickens, ironing… that sort of stuff.
It all started about two weeks ago when we got a bit tired of sightseeing. So we registered ourselves as workaways and discovered a totally new dimension to traveling. Workaway-ing a very good deal for travellers because in exchange for work, you get accommodation and food (depending on the hosts) and experience everyday life in the areas you choose, as opposed to the usual made-for-tourist crap.
We’ve been staying with and working for Hugh and Jane Forestier-Walker (and their two dogs and three cats) at their country home cum bed and breakfast, the Quinta Dos Tres Rios since Monday. Wanting to escape the “red tape, onerous legislation and UK rat-race”, in 2005 the couple sold off their famous smokery business which they ran from South Wales, bought a piece of land in the small village of Parada de Gonta (about 20 minutes from Viseu), and set about restoring the abandoned house that came with it. It’s now a top-end bed and breakfast, which they run by themselves with the occasional hand from their family and friends.
We’re absolutely loving it here – Sara gets to indulge in two of her favourite pastimes (cats and ironing) and the both of us are enjoying the hands-on experience of working the land (like everyone else here, they grow their own fruits and vegetables and make their own wine) as well as life in rural Portugal.
Hugh and Jane have made us feel like part of their extended family. Every night Jane whips up fabulous dinners, and we particularly enjoy Hugh’s almost daily attempts to teach his 84-year old mother in the UK how to use Skype on her new iPad. “Slide your finger firmly but gently across the screen like you’re stroking a feather, find the button that looks like a camera and tap on it…”
Their good friends, George and Di live in another village about 20 minutes away. George was particularly interested in meeting us when he found out that we were from Malaysia as he has many fond memories from his time there as a British army paratrooper in the 1970s. We spent some time listening to his stories of encountering wildlife and people in the forest as well as being stuck in a parachute way up in the forest canopy – we will have to record his amazing stories someday.
Yesterday, Hugh and Jane gave us some time off to sit down or “duduk bantah” in solidarity with our friends who bravely took on the water cannons, tear gas and razor wire on the streets of Kuala Lumpur during the Bersih demonstration for free and fair elections.
More work to be done in the next few days before we become tourists again. Leaving for Porto on the 2nd and flying off to Milan, Italy, the following day.