Quinta da Fortuna 11.10.2017

Hola! Over the next few days I will follow up from my last post ‘The ruins under the city’ with a few diary entries from when I worked on the Mediterranean plant nursery in Portugal! I hope this gives you an insight into what it is really like!

11.10.2017
As I awaken I can see the sunlight seeping through the window at the end of the bed and through the gap in the curtain I can make out the silhouette of the trees against the morning sky, I become fixated by the beauty of such a natural phenomenon. I start to wonder what time it is, I check my phone to see it is only 07:15, so I roll over and go back to sleep for another hour. When I wake for the the second time I look out of the window and although it is brighter now I can still the silhouette and it is just as glorious. I tell myself I will do this every morning for the duration of my stay.

I get up and go to the bathroom and carry out the standard morning in activities. I put on my boots and head over to the house for breakfast. Sabine, the German lady who will be hosting me shows me out to the terrace where there is freshly baked bread, homemade loquat marmalade, cheese, butter, peppermint tea and… chilli. Didi(short for Dietfrid), Sabines partner, comes out and we shake hands in a formal greeting. He takes a few chillies straight from the plant that is behind me and puts a small, deep red chilli on my plate. I remember hearing that the small ones are the fiery ones. I decide to just chuck it in my mouth and bite straight into it, and in an instant my tongue catches fire like somebody took a match to a bush in the Australian outback! Without hesitating I remove it from my mouth and put it back on the plate, we all share a laugh and Didi says he eats some every morning. This man sure loves chillies, I think to myself. In an attempt at easing the fire in my mouth I butter some bread and take a bite. I look down at the chilli thinking you will not beat me so I decide to have another go at it, this time I accompany it with some bread and a cheese spread. The flavour is immense, fiery as before but with the addition of the cheese it has created an incredible taste which lingers on my tongue. They offer me another one, which I kindly decline.

We finish our breakfast and Sabine gives me a tour of their beautifully wild garden, there is exotic plants from all over, different species of trees, flowers of all shapes, and vines growing everywhere all creating a real spectrum of colour. There is one vine that catches my eye, it has a bright blue, purple and pink bell flower on it of about 6cm diameter so I ask what it is, Sabine says it is a weed called Ipomea! I cannot believe this could be a weed, she goes on to say it spreads to much and kills a lot of the other plants in the nursery and I am likely to have to cut some of it back while I am here. it saddens me to have to destroy such beauty, but I understand the importance of keeping the other plants alive.

She ends the tour by showing me where the bikes are and says I can use them to go to the beach in my free time. She passes me over to Didi who has got an assortment of jobs line up for me. We start with emptying an enormous pot filled with soil, we do this so Didi can make, what he calls a warmhouse. It is a mini greenhouse he plans to keep his Plumeria in during the winter to keep it dry, the Plumeria is a wonderful little plant that grows in hot summers and dry winters! This does not take long and we move it to its new home near the back of the garden. After we move on to a simple task of tidying up the mini papyrus and re planting them in separate pots to sell on the market.

As I am nearing to finishing the task Sabine comes to say that I can stop what I am doing and come and have lunch. She looks at the plants lay on the trailer with the roots exposed and says that she thinks the plants will be okay until tomorrow, I politely tell her I will not be able to rest knowing the plants are laying here like this and I will finish of the task after lunch. She thanks me as we walk through to the terrace. On the table is a vegetarian pasta dish, simple but delicious nonetheless!

We finish up with lunch and they invite me to share dinner with them this evening outside on the terrace of the guest house, I accept the invitation and head back to the caravan. I spend thirty minutes doing yoga outside before taking a lukewarm shower to clean the dirt off from the garden. Once I am all cleaned up I pick up a book, lay on the bed and start to read before drifting off.

I wake up as I can hear Sabine outside shouting me to say dinner is early and will be ready in ten minutes. I quickly put on a shirt and head on over to see if there is anything I can help with, there isn’t, so I take a seat at the table and quietly wait.

After a few minutes all the food is on the table and we all start serving the food, they have prepared, a chicken, roast potatoes, a roast cabbage and a bowl of tzatziki. I have not eaten roast cabbage before so I am excited to see what it is like! In good old German fashion we all open a beer and say broust (German word for cheers) and start to eat. The potatoes have been cooked in rosemary from the garden, they go very well with the tzatziki, the cabbage is a new flavour that I will try to recreate myself one day. It is not long before we have all had our fair share, so I head to the kitchen to clean the dishes and put the remaining food in the fridge, a task I don’t mind doing.

Once dinner is all finished up we share another beer before I retreat back to my cosy little caravan to reflect on my first day in the Mediterranean plant nursery! I am so happy my hosts, Sabine and Didi are warm hearted beings. It is always so uplifting to meet such humble and knowledgeable folk, but I guess it’s what you would expect from two nature fanatics such as them. It is not long until I am dozing off into a peaceful sleep, ready for another day on Quinta de Fortuna

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