A church in Faro, southern Portugal. What you can't see are the stork nests in the bell housings and ledges, but they are there.
A year in Portugal, impossible to describe in a single post, but I'll start with that blue, blue sky. No sign of a cloud anywhere. It was this colour on July 7th, 2013 when I arrived in Faro and remained that same cloudless intense blue right through to October.
The summer heat is intense, you can feel the moisture being drawn out of your skin as you walk along in the sun. Your arms and face feel slightly itchy, or as though they've been stung by some sort of antiseptic wash. They have, it's called sunshine and when you aren't used to it, it can actually hurt. Sunburn, well that's another story. Surely these days only fools lie about in the noonday sun slathered with goop hoping for a tan in 3 hours. Here 20 minutes can give you a burn, 3 hours...I hate to think.
A year later, July 2014, still the same cloudless blue sky, but I live a little closer to the sea now, so there is almost always a seabreeze to take the edge off the heat when the temperatures climb to 34C or higher, which is almost every day now. I wear lighter clothes than I originally packed. Light t-shirts, sleeveless blouses, shorts and flowing skirts are the order of the day. Forget tailored, forget anything synthetic, at least until sundown, and even then only on really windy nights.
The dogs arrived safely in October. After 12 hours of travelling time they came out of their crates and into my arms as though it was the most normal thing in the world to be in this strange parking lot, in this strange country. The only anxiety shown was the way they both sat behind my seat in the car, with one paw poking through between the seats touching whatever part of me they could reach as we drove the two hours south from Lisbon to the Algarve.
Today, 8 months later, they enjoy sleeping on the cool tiles in the sunroom. They patrol the oleander hedges of their little piece of Portugal and bark at tractors and bicycles. When the gypsy carts come by, their donkeys and horses clopping down the road at a brisk pace, the dogs run beside the carts, along the property line. They don't bark, they just run to keep up with the carts, until they're out of sight and the clop clop clop fades away. Then, and only then, do they turn away from the hedge and slowly wander back towards the shaded pergola and their water dishes.