House-sitting in the Mountains
After saying our goodbyes, I left BF at Lisbon airport and set off for the next leg of my adventure. I was to look after a house in the Italian mountains. After a long day’s travel and a detour via a supermarket I finally arrived at my destination and settled in with my shopping. I decanted my belongings from my rucksack and I prepared for a three week stay on my own.
In the old days I never used to like the dark or being out in the countryside by myself. I like people and streetlights, shops and noise around me. So I wasn’t sure quite how I would cope with living in such a remote place and I was rather apprehensive. As I locked up the shutters for that first night alone I chattered away to myself. I was busy convincing myself that I was far too far out of the village for any trouble makers to wander my way and also reminded myself that an extremely small proportion of females who live alone come to a sticky end!
Luckily, after spending most of the day travelling, sleep came quickly and before I knew it, it was morning. Over the next couple of days I have to confess to becoming a tad jumpy if I heard a car or a tractor approaching but very soon I adapted and embraced the remoteness of the area. One day I did get ‘cabin fever’ and knew that if I didn’t get down to the village and civilization I was likely to turn into a gibbering idiot. You can only talk to yourself for so long before you get frustrated at the lack of response.
During my time at the house I spent my time completing further online courses and I obtained a higher level TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification. I did some gardening and I harvested and bottled the tomato crop as it ripened. I went to the beach a couple of times and I spent some time in the little village nearby. One highlight was attending a local fiesta when the entire population of the village gathered to celebrate a saint’s day. Trestle tables were placed under trees strewn with fairy lights alongside the river and we danced into the night. I swam daily in the pool and every morning I woke with a massive grin as I realised how lucky I was.
There was just one day of rain in those three weeks. The heat at night was suffocating but I do like to be warm so that didn’t bother me too much. I was treated to several jaw-dropping displays at night by the Perseads meteor shower. With zero light pollution I lay down on a lounger and watched shooting stars pepper the sky for several evenings. It was magical.
The sunsets and the views were spectacular and due to the ever changing light, I found myself constantly amazed at the way that the perspective of the mountains changed around me. Some days they loomed forbiddingly over me with their peaks lost in swirling cloud and at other times they leant back into the horizon and my valley appeared to open up. The palette of colours changed from monochrome as all colour was bleached out of the landscape, through lilacs and pinks to the richest of reds and terracotta as the sun set.
Up in the clear air the insects seemed louder (they were certainly larger), the flowers brighter and the bird life more exotic. I was captivated by a pair of eagles which would hitch a ride on the thermals each day, the European bee eaters which would tumble noisily around the sky and the humming bird hawk moths with their long beak-like tongues and their dusky pink and brown bodies. The snake was an interesting visitor as was the tiny little mouse which staggered out from under the washing machine one day and the geckos which darted everywhere each upped my happiness levels.
I needed this time to recharge my batteries because soon I would be heading back to Portugal where I would join my family in a hotel for a holiday. I met some amazing people – some of which I know that I will be friends with for ever, and I never ceased to count my blessings at the opportunity to stay in the house in the mountains.