Portugal has always been on my list of countries to visit.
One of my closest childhood friends, Andrea, is Portuguese American and I’ll never forget sitting in our Elementary school class eating the cookies she brought back from Portugal after visiting family abroad. It was my first encounter with a world outside of the United States and her stories amazed me.
My curiosity only grew as one of my closest adulthood friends, Ellie, traveled to Portugal for a conference and came back on a travel high from her experiences. She revered everything about the country and I loved hearing about it.
So with little coaxing, Portugal was added as one of our final stops of the trip.
Lets just say it lived up to the hype…
We stayed with a family in the southern region of the country, just east of Faro and only eight kilometers from the beach in Fuseta. It was another help exchange scenario, but (per usual) unique from anything we’ve ever done.
We made ourselves at home in a caravan nestled among palm trees and greenery with an ocean view on the horizon.
Didi and Sabine were our caring hosts and owners of the beautiful plant nursery where we did most of our work. They moved to Portugal from Germany twenty three years ago and have created a wonderful life for themselves.
Only the life they’ve created hasn’t been just for themselves.
They share their space and love with four dogs and fifteen cats, almost all rescues. It’s truly a sanctuary for second chances. The stories behind each animal is heartwarming and filled with kindness.
It was both exciting and relaxing to be surrounded by so many animals during our two week stay. One of our favorites of the bunch was Buddy, a four year old (huge) greyhound mix that Sabine and Didi found as a puppy on the side of the highway.
And our favorite three legged cat, who loved a good back scratch.
Each dog had his or her own energetic personality and the cats were very friendly. If you know me, you know I generally dislike (hate) cats, but Sabine’s rescues were different; they acted more like dogs and loved attention. I found myself embracing their desire for attention regularly.
Who am I?
They were all great company!
Each day (when it wasn’t raining) we worked in the nursery cleaning out old plants and reorganizing vibrant ones. It was hard work, but fulfilling to be productive.
Two of the days we helped with a local plant sale. Knowing absolutely nothing about plants made sales tactics unique but I think we contributed to the operation and learned a lot in the process.
We worked until noon each day which gave us time to explore the region. We’d ride our bikes to the beach to enjoy the beautiful views and relax.
In my opinion, Fuseta was one of the most gorgeous beaches we’ve seen on the trip.
Unfortunately, we didn’t leave enough time in our schedule to see the rest of the country, but a quick stop in Lisbon before our departing flight solidified our notion of returning as soon as possible to see more of it.