“when it rains, it pours” (or “the shit-hole that is our life”)
So, coming back to Rogil has been an unforgettable,
wish-we-could-forget-it kind of experience.
We arrived late Tuesday evening,
around sunset, from Zambujeira do Mar.
Happy to be back, excited to see our lovely neighbors again.
Even enjoying Alvin, our almost-adopted dog, coming around,
sleeping outside our tent as usual.
In the morning Mohamed mentioned how he liked it here,
wished we could stay here longer and
actually open the property as an eco-golf course.
Not much time passed before two GNR police cars roll up,
and three young police officers jump out,
their sunglasses shining in the morning glare.
They ask for documentation and search the place.
We give our passports and visas, and ask what’s what.
The owner of the property had called them about people
illegally occupying their land (a common charge here apparently).
We mentioned that we received permission from the realtor,
showing them the realtor’s email, and soon Mohamed was seemingly arrested.
I questioned the English-speaking officer about why? where? how long? etc.
Not sure, but questioning and investigation, then charges; Odeceixe;
for a few hours, and maybe court today, which would take longer, or tomorrow.
Mohamed returned home several hours later, after a little questioning,
lots of paperwork, and charges of illegal habitation,
a scenic 11 km walk back in the afternoon heat,
with a court appearance in Lagos the next morning.
After waiting to speak to the public defender,
and again showing the realtor’s email,
the charges were dismissed.
He must return to Lagos in 2 weeks to verify that no fines are due,
which we heard we may be able to convert to community service,
which seems much better than paying fines into the system.
(Overall, we are grateful that law enforcement here is unlike America:
no handcuffs, no booking, no fingerprinting, no mug shot,
no overnight stays in jail until a court hearing, no bail,
no “right to remain silent” as they weren’t making accusations,
but actively investigating, trying to find the answers;
all we wish is that they would’ve just called the realtor.
Apparently the realtor NEVER mentioned to the owner
that he gave us permission to camp there.
If so, none of this would’ve happened.)
So Mohamed came back, and we head north to Odemira to renew our visas.
The nice lady at the municipal office won’t bother with our Austrian visas,
and informs that as non-EU citizens, we need to go to an office in Beja,
but we have 3 months from entry to do so. Phew.
Also, our realtor, who came along to help translate,
found out that although he is from the Netherlands,
he also needs to go to Beja since his visa has expired too long ago.
We agree to all go together after our house closing and such.
Yet on the way to Odemira, more insanity ensued:
we got a call from the police station in Odeceixe,
asking if we had vacated the property yet.
Of course the police officer who called us didn’t speak English,
so we settled on our mutual rusty Spanish skills,
(Gracias a Señor Virus por 7 años de Español,
but that was 20 años ago!)
in which I explained that we weren’t there,
that we were in Odemira,
but our stuff still was.
He asked “?Por qué?”
I explained that my husband was in Lagos at the Palácio da Justiça all day,
with our car, so how was I supposed to move all our things by myself,
while watching and caring for my daughter, a toddler?
I explained that we’d be moving to the nearby farm,
as the neighboring farmer is an incredibly decent human being, Tío Vovaldi,
(the same man who had given us the produce, and sugar cane, and today a melon)
who spent that afternoon clearing a space for us to camp out and store our things.
The police officer told us we had 2 hours to clear all our things.
I re-explained that we were in Odemira,
that it would take us an hour just to return,
so 4 hours we received, which put our deadline after sundown,
but less time than it actually took,
but we moved most of our things by 10 that night,
(including the trailer that Cornelius helped us get out of the sand)
and finished before sunup;
and even refrained from giving the middle-finger salute
to the lady who called the police on the owner’s behalf,
though I won’t pretend that I wish her well.
So the next morning Mohamed mentioned
that I should document our new surroundings;
I looked around and then at him and said
“you mean the shithole that is our life?”
“yeah,” as it is one of those things we’d laugh about later,
at least we hope we can laugh about it later.
We camped out in the nearby woods for a couple more nights,
but decided that with that lady staring us down daily,
and tenants moving in at the rental house at Tío Vovaldi’s,
we decided to move along again.
Our realtor offered up a property he owns:
33 hectares of unspoiled forest and rolling hills in São Luis,
(originally planned to become a wellness retreat,
before the Dutch dancer/yoga teacher left him for another man).
But as it was an hour north of Rogil and a half hour past our hopefully home,
and had no water source or electricity, we politely declined,
deciding to stay somewhere closer.
So after some debate,
we decided to camp out on our new land.
We wanted to see it throughout the day,
to observe the path of the sun and shadows,
figuring out where to put the gardens, terraces and greenhouses.
And also to hike throughout the entire property,
as most of the 1.17 hectares is forested
and we were unsure what was growing there,
and really, which part of the tree-filled hillside
was actually becoming ours to tend.
But mostly, the reason was exhaustion:
tired of moving, tired of being on someone else’s property,
tired of waiting to walk the land, and water the plants,
and look after the bit of world that would become ours.
So here we are:
In a week the paperwork should be completed,
the money transfer received and divided,
for the four German owners flying in to sign over their land.
P.S. an explanation of the title of the post:
“when it rains, it pours” is the title of one of my favorite songs,
by my favorite band, Twiddle, an incredibly talented group from Vermont.
The lines that were looping in my head for most of the move:
“the problems don’t go away,
they keep piling on your plate,
you just want to escape,
you need to re-awake, now,
listen to the words I’m singing in this line
and, your life will be just fine,
and, troubles do not stay, they
get replaced with good times,
now you got a green light,
smile as you walk by,
thinking about the day…”