Out in the sticks? You can say that again. But apart from the long drive to work and the lack of nightlife, that’s one of the good things about living in the tiny village of Moura Morta in central Portugal. Once you’ve made it here, it’s like being on holiday all year round.
The very first time I came here, I was bewitched by the scenery from the moment I turned off the main road and saw the mauve peaks of the Serra do Açor looming in the distance. With one foot squeezing the brake, I negotiated the steep wiggly road down to the village, snatching occasional glimpses of the village through the eucalyptus and mimosa trees. But it was the view from the house that won me over and made me want to live here.
I’ve lost count of the number of times that, sitting on the balcony watching the river Alva below and the forested hills beyond that Mike and I have said, or even just thought to ourselves, “It’s like being on holiday!” And now that we’ve torn down the old shed and made the garden bigger, prettier and more comfortable, there are even more reasons and places to feel pleased about living in rural Portugal.
In fact, when I’ve got a full fridge and no outside commitments, I don’t leave the house for days on end, other than to walk the dog. And that’s something else I love. I open the front door, check there’s no one around then let the dog shoot out, like a greyhound after a rabbit, around the corner and down the track into the forest.
She soon comes back to make sure that I’m following her and we then have a selection of routes available to us depending on the weather, time, inclination and presence of other people such as fishermen or farmers. Whichever path we take, there are views of the village straddling a ridge among the hills, and of the river Alva, which is where we usually end up.
One of my favourite spots is directly below the village, where there’s a small concrete bridge, a ruined mill and a small weir. The bank has been cleared and someone has thoughtfully balanced a slab of rock onto some smaller ones, creating a seat. Sitting there in the warmth of the early morning sun or the welcome afternoon shade of the mimosas is the perfect way to appreciate the colours, shapes and sounds of nature and village life.
These colours, shapes and sounds are constantly changing what with new flowers coming into bloom, small fields in various stages of crop production and building work going on. Nothing stays the same, making it fascinating to observe the changes, however small they are.
An old friend who came to visit predicted that I would quickly tire of living so far away from ‘civilisation’. Happily, she was mistaken.
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