Over these last few years of coming here to the Quinta we’ve developed a lovely familiarity with not only the village of Estoi but additionally, many of the locals. Most will wave to us and call out, some will stop us and attempt a conversation, and some we simply know from a distance. It’s a rarity that while sitting in the square and having lunch we don’t get a hug or kiss from one or two of the elderly women we’ve come to see daily.
One of the people we’ve noticed regularly, an old woman who lives nearby, has been affectionally dubbed The Chicken Lady….simply because she keeps a large flock of chicken right at the foot of our staircase from the property to a main road AND she collects the wild sorrel that grows in profusion near our parking as feed for the chickens. Whenever we have seen each other over the past four years there is always a smile, a wave, and quite often, a few unrecognizable words. Her name is Amália. She is 84 years old!!!
I have been a bit curious about Amália and one day (a couple of years ago) I discovered that she lived on a road not far from here. I had occasion to see inside her home a couple of times and was a bit shocked to see that it was literally a dirt floor, one large room and quite dark. That said, she is always meticulous. She does laundry almost daily as is evidenced by the tiny clothesline near her front door that always holds one or two items. Beneath it a tiny flowerbed of carnations, usually one or two blooming. Her apron, which is part of her uniform is always clean. She also sports (always) a toque!!
About two years ago the property next door that sort of wraps itself around part of our property was sold and purchased by a couple from Luxembourg. In the beginning, they didn’t seem very friendly to us but over time we more or less changed our minds about them and realized they weren’t as cold as they appeared. It was more cultural.
Sometime after their purchase that we realized the tiny abode of Amália is actually part of their property and purchase and given we knew they were planning a complete renovation we wondered how this would impact her. Much renovation was underway before we left here last May.
When we returned this year we discovered that Amália is now our neighbour here at the Quinta!!!! She literally lives six steps from our front door and we see her all the time. It turns out that (according to what we have been told) she was living in that tiny home for many many years (more than 20) and that the couple who are renovating are completely renovating the space for her…..new floor, roof, walls, absolutely everything. In the meantime, they contacted Konrad to see if they could rent one of his spaces specifically for her for a few months till the renovation was finished at which time she will move back into this house and live her life out there. A space was available and she has been there now for a couple of months and will move back into her newly renovated home in the next couple of weeks.
Marc was telling our neighbour, Vey, that we would like a photo of Amália and Vey helped orchestrate that. Her they are……..and by the way……the man in the background is Amália’s “boyfriend”!!!
What a wonderful story and now, of course, we have another perspective on these two men from Luxembourg. A reminder to never judge a book by it’s cover.