The Ups & Downs of Living the Dream
Are you wondering what we’re up to?
Looking back, I notice that I have been posting very irregularly. Once, maaaybe twice a month. I harbor no misconceptions that this blog is going to turn into daily reflections (we can both breathe a sigh of relief now) but I think I can do better. I want to do better.
With that in mind, here is my vision: to share a bit more often, and a bit more, about what is going on. The ups and downs of this adventure we are on.
So what’s the Cramooz sitch these days?
On the plus side, we are still living the dream: no boss, no office hours, no major constraints in terms of how we manage our days, and a lot of time spent outdoors. We are living with our Workaway hosts at Vinha da Manta, in a little house that has electricity, hot water, and wifi. Absolute luxury!
On most days I feed the horses either in the morning or evening or both, and I go out on rides semi-regularly (that means some weeks not at all, others like this week almost every day).
Our days are usually built around administrative task which often feel more like 007 missions given what it takes to achieve them. Swapping our drivers licenses for Portuguese ones, signing Francois up for Portuguese lessons, talking to an accountant, an architect, a solicitor – all to figure out what our options are to buy a property and potentially get funding for the ecotourism project we want to develop on it, and the list goes on.
The thing is, 90% of all interactions are in Portuguese.
And technically, neither of us speaks Portuguese.
My Spanish and my French have been lifesavers in terms of launching me onto the Portuguese learning curve. Beyond that, I am diving in as best I can: Netflix subtitles are always on and in Portuguese, I am slowly reading through tourism laws (Google Translate is my friend), and almost all the meetings we have are in fact conducted in Portuguese, because – believe it or not – it tends to lead to less misunderstandings.
However, after an hour of conversation, I have about 15 minutes to debrief with Francois before my brain flat-lines and I need a nap, a glass of wine, or both to revert back to basic functionality.
It’s a work in progress.
As we inch along, most days feel like we are moving forward even if it’s at a snail’s pace. Some days, however, when someone kindly reminds us of all the official steps required to do what we want to do (oh yes, because there’s an official way to do things, an illegal way to do things, and hundreds of shades of grey in-between) and what could potentially go wrong along the way, it feels like we are trying to moonwalk to the top of Mount Everest in All-Stars.
We are ok taking our time to do things (hopefully!) right, but there are time constraints too: if we are not at least semi-operational by Summer 2018, we lose a season’s worth of potential income. We are lucky enough to have some startup capital, but it is oh-so-finite.
Without either of us being aces at managing money or living on a budget, we’re trying our damnedest to do better than ever – because no matter how you look at it, money still makes the world go around.
In terms of scary externalities, the fires in Central Portugal bypassed our area but came uncomfortably close, and it has rained no more than a week since January this year, making this the driest year most people can remember. It’s the end of October and days are so sunny we could be in the thick of summer. Not good (even if enjoyable).
In a nutshell: yes, we are enjoying a good life while working on building our ideal lifestyle, but if at any point in time it seems like it’s all sparkles and ice-cream, know that it isn’t. We regret nothing, but question what we’re doing regularly – and that in spite of how convinced we are that we are right where we are meant to be.
So here’s to small victories, keeping the eye on the ball, and being relentless in our pursuit of happiness.