A letter from Portugal No. 27 The house we live in
@ As is already told to you, the house we live in is a kind of row-house. All of the old town has been made in a form of consecutive row-houses and our house is located in the heart of this old town.
The owner of the house is a Scotch lady who at the time of our contract, lived in Holland. She bought this house several years ago as her second house to spend her holidays in a warm southern Europe. But the company asked her to work in India for some years and she decided to rent the house because she would not be able to spend her time here while she lives in India. Her name is Rosie (Rosamund) but we have not seen her yet and we made a contract with her friend who lives in this town.
When you hear of the town in Portugal, you may recall a town filled with a beautifully red-coloured roof in Lisbon. But this city is filled with white wall and white roof. At the sight of this town, you may recollect a town in Morocco. A friend of us explained to us that the town and the society itself were very similar to Morocco. gWith a strong influence of Muslim, women were not allowed to go out at night.h
The feature of this house is a high ceiling, the floor which is made of art tiles and the wall which is very thick and is made of soil and clay. In short, the house is built mainly to protect the residents from the heat of the summer. A house which is located about 100 meters from this house has a tile board which reads that gthe house was built in 1884h. Another house which is located 150 meters further away has a board gbuilt in 1798h. Our house appears similar to these houses and we believe that this house is about 100 years old. Rosie the landowner, however, seems to have made a good renewal of the facilities such as gas, water, and electricity and we enjoy a comfortable modern life.
The height of the ceiling is more than 4 meters and is decorated lovely. However, in order to go to the upper floor, we have to climb up 23 steps of 20 cm high which is a tiresome work. Until we are accustomed to these steps, an intermediate one breath was necessary for us.
The first floor, which we call the second floor in Japanese way of the naming, has a room with toilet. Other area of this floor is a kind of terrace which is a rooftop of the ground floor. The ceiling of the ground floor is made in a shape of dome and this floor of the terrace is not flat at all reflecting the dome of each room of the ground floor. In summer, we sometimes have dinner at this terrace and I have to manipulate to set a table on the floor.
At the second floor, we have one more room and on top of that room, we have a rooftop of about 15 square meters. From this housetop, we have a view of the sea, mountains and the town. We enjoy to see the rising sun from the sea direction at winter. One thing I would like to add here is that we can see three nests of storks within a range of 200 meters from this house. To say gHello !h to them in the morning is a delight of mine.
@ I enjoy a good acoustics which I did not expect at all before we live in this house. The dining room and a drawing room are connected, which means that we have an audio-room with the size of 3m X 10m X 4.5m high. The audio machine which I have is a common one but in this room, I can spend very happy hours. When pipe-organ music of J.S. Bach or symphony of L. v. Beethoven is on with full volume, the sound falls down from the ceiling and the room turns to a paradise with full brilliant sounds.
One thing I wonder here is the prevention system for a thief. Portuguese in general love and depend on the lock and key. They use strongly built lock and to open it, they rotate the key over and over. This house is no exception and we have a good lock on the front door. What I wonder is the terrace on the first floor. The houses in neighbors have also a terrace and in between with our house, we have a small wall of about 1.5 meters high. You can easily go to the terrace of the next house. Actually, cats go to various terraces freely. And once you succeed to invade to a terrace, it means that you succeeded to invade to that house. Certainly we have a door from the terrace into a room, but it does not have such a complicated lock. For the professionals, it means nothing at all.
But we spend day and night at ease. We have nothing worthy to steal in this house. Actually most of the houses in this old town would not be a target for the thefts. They have more lucrative targets in the western Algarve where you find developed resort area with luxurious houses and golf courses.
The environments here is much different from the one we had in Japan and we live full of curiosity every day.
April 2007 y Seiji z