We came, we saw, we ate, we laughed and we worked – HARD!
So far, this project tips the scales when it comes to workload. Our host, Rute’s, farm is absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. Set in the countryside about 30mins from Evora with olive groves and fruit trees, stables for the 4 horses, a lovable farm dog called Jake and with not one, but two traditional Portuguese farmhouses there is always work to be done.
We arrived at a time when Rute needed help replacing the roof on one of the houses which was to be used as Workaway accommodation. Our tasks included taking down the roof tiles, removing the wooden planks below them with the help of a crowbar, taking down the huge wooden beams, mixing cement and plastering walls. Assisting in the placement of new steel beams, lifting massive, insulated roof panels onto the roof, measuring and marking them before precariously lowering them down the scaffolding to be cut and trimmed with a circular saw and angle grinder. And then, after all of that, we had to get them back on the roof and into place so that Rute could secure them with the help of a drill and some roofing screws. This was not easy work but it was an absolute pleasure. Although the roofing was our main ‘job’ whilst in Evora there were other tasks too. Sebastian spent most of one morning strimming the horse excercise pen, all 6 of us helped offload over a 100 bales of hay, we moved truckload after truckload of building rubble, we cleaned the stables and learnt how to trim and clean horse hooves to name but a few.
Rute is an incredible lady. She is a major in the Portuguese army, able to take on any and all tasks, super organised, always up for a laugh and one of the most amazing cooks we know. Before we arrived she had already planned all of our meals which, for the most part, were 3 course and ensured that no dish was ever repeated. She gave us a thorough education when it came to traditional food from the Alentejo region and was super enthusiastic to sample some traditional South African cuisine too. We fed her ‘braaivleis’, pap and chakalaka.
During our free time we visited the Roman ruins and cathedrals in the historic city of Evora, spent many hours swimming in the local dam and visited Rute’s mom, dad and grandmother in Fazenda.
The original plan was to stay for one week but, as the roofing project was a large one, we agreed to stay for two. It’s incredibly difficult to explain how, after such a short period of time you can form such a strong bond but I can tell you when the time came to hitch up our caravan and leave, it was with a heavy heart and a promise to return next summer…if not, sooner.