posted by Pam

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We recently went on a much needed vacation.  It had been a long time.  We were happy to head off to Portugal, our friendly neighbor, where we hadn´t been for several years.  Normally we camp near the beach but this time we were craving quiet and so we rented a country house off the beaten path through Air BnB and took off.

The beaches did not disappoint us; they are beautiful and the Atlantic Coast has wonderful surf which we love.  Our days were full of sun, surf, sand, lots of physical activity and beautiful coastal views.  We explored some new beaches and revisited some old ones.  We were so happy & grateful for these activities & vistas:

The guys played paddle...

...lots of it!  They made up new rules and new games no one has ever heard of.

They built moats and walls to save us from the incoming tide with surprising waves,

One time a huge wave rolled in suddenly and came within centimeters of our place...

They felt quite triumphant!

They also built us wind blocks on windy days.  (My guys are quite useful!)

We rode waves with delight.

Enjoyed the expansive, clean beaches,

snorkeled near the rocky, rugged coast,

And just chilled out.  (But not for very long.)

  (I took this picture as proof that miracles do happen - Jordan reading!  jaja)

I LOVE the water and it was wonderful to be in it again every day.  Of course there aren´t very many pictures to prove this since I usually TAKE the pictures!


Before you get too jealous or think this post is just about the great time we had, let me get to the funny part.  What caught us truly by surprise and became the subject of endless jokes & incredulity was the cute - and zany - country house we had found on Air BnB...

The house was darling as you can see.
It came with it´s own ¨private lake¨ as our host had promised online.

I would call it a pond.

The guys called it a swamp.

Depending on the color of your bathing suit when you got out, you named it.

We quite enjoyed the lake/pond/swamp a number of days.  

There were even 2 paddle boards and so we got to try that - for free!!  I had always wanted to try.  

 Jordan tried to help his Dad, he really did.  Somehow, I got up effortlessly
 and paddled around said lake/pond/swamp. (This is seriously the ONLY
sport I ever remember beating my husband in!)

Around the outside of our house there were beautiful flowers and fruit trees.

There was even a small vegetable garden including brussels sprouts 
which as a friend of mine likes to say, ¨grow in the armpit
 of the plant.¨   

That explains a lot about their lack of popularity, if you ask me.

There were a few tomatoes and squash, too, but the main crop was clearly...


There were a number of plants...and they were clearly the healthiest.
 I´m pretty sure they were not decorative. 
( I wasn´t sure if this was included in the vacation experience, so we just ignored them.)

Our host said we could wash our dishes outside and recycle our water.  I wasn´t too keen on extra work - no matter how ecological!  After all, this year we had paid for a house and purposefully not gone camping.  But it did have a nice view of the lake/pond/swamp.

Our host told Bruce on the first day that ¨the guys can piss outside; the plants like it.¨ jajajajaja  (Thankfully, I was told I could go inside.)
Later on that first night Mr. Adventure told me he had ¨peed on the cannabis.¨ I was horrified.
 I said I didn´t think our host had meant in the garden!  But Bruce insisted he had said, ¨the plants 
like it.¨  I think there´s some hidden meaning in Bruce´s actions...

One day I found this sign outside in the backyard...
and I guess that about says it all.

Our host carefully made us this map to get around.  Jordan called it our ¨Indiana Jones map.¨ ;)

Isn´t it awesome??!!

The house had lots of outdoor space which included quiet places for 
reading, resting, talking, thinking, drinking mate...

We even had room to put up Bruce´s 30+ year old Yucatan Peninsula family-sized  hammock!

Jordan even slept in it a few nights!

Of course, they wrestled in it, too.


The most awesome thing about the house was its decor.
It was...well, unique.  Unusual.  Bizarre.
Dani was in California and I texted her about it.  She´s pretty edgy about art
 but when I sent her some pictures, she wrote back, ¨What the heck??  You weren´t kidding!!¨

So here goes...

Wooden art,

A decorated tree in the living room...

That is, decorated with ummm, metal thingys??

And molted snakeskins!  

Makes you wanna DIY it this weekend, no??

Then there were the natural wooden sculptures... 

I call this one ¨Lost in Worship.¨

This one is a tie between ¨Sleepwalker¨, ¨Praying Mantis.¨ and ¨Zombie:¨

This one is clearly ¨Juggling Basketball Player Who Dropped the Ball.¨

It was reminiscent of Bruce´s Sports Ambassadors days.


Because clearly, there are no words for this.

¨Oh, I Give Up!¨

¨Dying Man in the Desert.¨

Then again, maybe our host just supports local artists...
(We saw this place not far from home.)

This one gets the prize for ¨Most Normal Artwork in the Whole House.¨

We had a little musical corner going on...

But we couldn´t quite figure out the use for the palm trunk...
some kind of ethnomusicology instrument?

These wood slices were actually quite nice, almost mandala-ish.  
Then again, they also kind of looked like giant toenails.

Jordan was psyched to have a disco ball in his room.  
It´s just what every soccer player dreams of.

There was some colorful weaving pretty much in the normal category.
Of course, normal is a relative term here.

 Jordan had a great night stand complete with a branch to hang his jewelry on.

The lighting in the kitchen was a little shaky.  If someone was taking a shower, they went off and on.

Bruce and I slept in the loft.  I must say I slept soundly knowing I could not fall 
over the edge with this sturdy bamboo guardrail.  Plus, if there were any
 nighttime intruders, I could just grab that frying pan off the wall and bash ´em!!

There was outdoor art, too.  (This old buoy doubled as a life preserver for the lake/pond/swamp.)

Our backyard included a stage in case we wanted to do karaoke at night.
(Between that and Jordan´s disco ball we had a swingin´ time!)

I really wanted Bruce to draw me an outdoor bath but it would have been too much work...

Who wants to have to repair & clean the tub, make a fire, haul
 and heat up the lake/pond/swamp water?
I let him off the hook since we were, after all, on vacation.

Our backyard area had toys, too!

Guinness size slingshots...every guy´s dream!

Our second - YES, SECOND! - stage where we all practiced dramatic arts...

Emphasis on practice.

We could literally sleep, eat, pee, go to the theatre and bathe out of doors!

If you were a very small child or had a very tiny butt you could use this chair.

Our yard came with a gorgeous vista point and mosaic bench to enjoy it from.
Unfortunately, the compost pile was right there, too, keeping your visits short.


The Magnum Opus of the place was the ¨Cactus Art.¨

What is cactus art you ask?

Let me show you...

Take a local cactus...

And decorate it kind of like a Christmas tree.
But not really.

Take your old plumbing tubing, handcuffs, bike chains or used saw blades and put them on the branches when they are small so it will be a tight fit later on in life.

I don´t know about you, but I´m definitely dumping bonsai and going for cactus art!

We should have suspected something when we drove by our host´s home
upon arrival to our little house behind it...

Speaking of our host, have I told you what a character he was?  
But I suppose you already gathered that. 
We have a word for him in Spanish:  ¨PERSONAJE.¨
It´s something like ¨a character¨ in English but much moreso.
I have to blur his face to protect his identity out of respect,
but just imagine a great smile and white hair short in the front and longer
 and curlier in the back. :)

Here he is pictured in his daily outfit. I called it his loincloth.
(I´m pretty sure he only put it on when we were there and wore less when we weren´t.)

He´s retired so every day he slept in and ¨woke himself up¨ by bathing in the lake/pond/swamp.  (If a couple days went by that we didn´t get in the lake/pond/swamp he would ask us Why? and insist on how clean the water was.  I personally can vouch that with a mask on, you cannot see your hand in front of your face underwater!)  One day when we got home from the beach he suddenly appeared while we were unloading the car.  He was wearing his loincloth and he was completely covered in something white.  He said to me, ¨Oh, you scared me.¨ I was thinking, I scared you??!!  He quickly explained, ¨The lake has some mud in it that´s good for your skin.  At least I think it is.  I came up to the house to take my picture and you scared me!¨ Then he went down to the lake/pond/swamp to rinse off and we noticed he had a lady friend who emerged naked from the water.  I was glad Jordan was in the house.
That story pretty much sums up our host!  hahahaha

So while we enjoyed local cuisine,

carbohydrate festivals,

baby squid,

local hot sauce called Piri-Piri and fresh bay leaves,

local production of cork for wine bottles and other products,

(this tree is marked as being harvested in 2013)

(a cork plate and a little purse)

playing guessing games about items in the house (I offered a euro to whoever could figure this out but no one ever did. It looks like a toy where you flip the end piece onto the stick but it didn´t fit.),

(Bruce offered a euro to whoever could figure out how to change the tp - Jordan got that one.)

(I´ll give a reward to whoever can tell me what these nuts are!)

 enjoyed reading and playing games since of course (surprise, surprise!!) 
there was no internet at the house.  

We even enjoyed a spectacular, first time ever boat excursion on Jenna´s birthday 
(which I will write about in Thru A Mom´s Eyes) in which we enjoyed spectacular
coastal scenery...

But by far the most unique part of this vacation was our crazy, zany country house!!!

I expected beautiful beaches, good food and a fun time but I NEVER
 expected the house to be so wildly entertaining!

(I can provide details if you would like to rent this house. PM me. ) 

Good-bye for now.

And Good Night, Moon!