The First Day of Shorts

May 30, 2019

Pleasantly toasty today. I took the long way to everywhere I walked. I was kissed by the sun and I liked it. Now I have to find where I put my sandals.

No optical illusion. I’m really that skinny.


A Preview of Summer

May 13, 2019

Between the temperature and high humidity, it’s been cold enough that almost every day I wear long underwear as a base for multiple layers. That’s for indoors. The longies come off for anything involving more than a few minutes of walking outside. Yesterday was the first day warm enough to be in T-shirt and pants both indoors and out. Warm enough for me, that is. Today is warmer. Pleasantly toasty. Thirty two C (94 F) with 19% humidity.

That’s both comfortable and practical. My apartment has a washing machine and a balcony shaped enclosure with clothes lines. Until now, starting a load at 7-7:30 meant by sunset some items were still a bit damp. That’s on days without drizzle. Yesterday, the first load was crunchy dry by 1 pm. What were 2 large bath towels are now 2 large bath towel shaped loofahs.

One of the reasons I wanted to live in Caldas was its mild 4 season climate. It’s easier to carpe diem when nature provides a hard to miss reminder that the celestial clock is ticking. May brought with it two reminders – posters around town for events in the park, and a trickle of tourists. There will be photographs. Maybe there will be ones with posting.

How much does it cost to live there #2

April 29, 2019

Why I’m posting a snapshot of costs was explained previously.

For most of my time in Hua Hin the choice of western style markets was either a Wal-Mart style store or the store where addicted expats pay high prices for their favorites from home. So it’s nice to have a choice of where to food shop in Caldas. Within easy walking distance I can choose between 3 markets of Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear size, plus the daily farmers market at Praça da Fruta (Fruit Square). Two big box supermarkets are a 20 minute walk, in different directions of course. Can’t get everything I want at any one place, so maybe what I buy where will tell you something about life here. Or about me. From what I’ve read online, such multi source shopping is typical in Portugal.

Also, some routine medical costs.

Food Costs

Auchan Market has the best choice of canned fish, prepared sauces, and what would be an insult to call canned pork parts and white beans, though those are the two main ingredients. I call them stews. Why canned foods? It’s an easy meal to dump half or all of a can on left over pasta or boiled potatos, add blanched veggies and dig in.


17.6 oz Spaghetti – $1.40
4.2 oz Canned Cod – $2.12 each ($0.50 per oz)
8.5 oz Vinagrete – $1.67 ($0.20 per oz)
7.4 oz 3 Pepper Sauce – $2.03 ($0.27 per oz)
Fifty 1 Litre plastic bags – $1.00
Thirty 20 Litre plastic bags – $1.09
14.8 oz Chispalhada (stew) – $1.72 ($0.12 per oz)
15.2 oz Dobrada (stew) – $1.40 ($0.09 per oz)

Pingo Doce has the best sweet potatoes, bread, and greens of the 3 markets. Also the only one to sell eggs by the half dozen.

Pingo Doce 1-20190418

1.6 lb Chicken – $3.25 ($1.01 per lb)
0.6 lb Sweet Potatoes – $1.24 ($0.96 per lb)
1.2 lb Greens – $1.83 ($0.76 per lb)
0.3 lb Carrots – $0.25 ($0.35 per lb)
1.1 lb Sliced Bread – $1.89
Six Large eggs – $1.11
0.2 lb Lowish fat fresh cheese – $1.10 each ($3.11 per lb)

Pingo Doce is the closest place with plain yogurt. Auchan market doesn’t sell it. Haven’t noticed if the other markets sell 250 ml of juice box wine. It’s decent table wine. Auchan doesn’t sell juice, only ‘nectar’, which is juice & sugar water.

Pingo Doce 2-20190422

Pingo Doce wine

Six Medium eggs – $1.00
1.1 lb Spaghetti – $0.55
0.2 lb Bread Rolls – $0.97
0.3 lb Plain Yogurt – $0.76 for 4 ($0.17 per oz)
33.8 oz Orange Juice – $1.67 ($0.05 per fluid oz)
8.5 oz Vinho Branco (White Wine) – $0.50 ($0.06 per fluid oz)
8.5 oz Dandruff Shampoo (½ off sale) – $2.12

Daily Farmers Market is the only place for ready to eat roasted sweet potatoes. Far better produce choice than the 3 markets. Plus it’s fun to shop there.

Fruit Square-20190422

0.3 lb Roasted Sweet Potatoes – $0.87 ($1.52 per lb)
0.4 lb Clementines – $0.49 ($0.66 per lb)
0.6 lb New Potatoes – $0.34 ($.30 per lb)
0.4 lb Apples (unknown variety) – $0.67 ($0.81 per lb)

Medical Costs

Except for Gaviscon (non-generic OTC heartburn relief), my prescription and OTC meds cost less than in Thailand, which cost way less than in the US. Woo hoo!

Colonoscopy with anesthesia – €285 (~$315)
Colonoscopy without – ~€130 (~$150)
EKG simple 12-way – €12.5 (~$14.50)
Doctor visit for prescriptions of existing meds and request colonoscopy because it’s been 10 years since the first one. – €40 (~$45.50)


April 18, 2019

In the last post I wrote “For the first time since Nov 2008 my apartment has a kitchen.” Should have said since March 2010. Prior to that I lived in the Philippines. Both apartments there had a kitchen.

First Month in Portugal

April 18, 2019

Snippets for now, as I don’t have enough on any topic to warrant a post.

Jet Lag

It was bad. Hadn’t completely recovered when the daylight savings change happened. That alone usually disrupted sleep for a week for most of my life. For the first time I tried tried treating jet lag by walking outside for 30-60 minutes while the sun came up. Supposedly it helps reset your body clock. Don’t know if it helped. Do know it gave me something productive to do, exercise and photography, after waking up way too early.

x-20190318-06468-850Taken in the park adjacent to my apartment.

Unpacking While Jet Lagged

I knew that what would seem as perfectly obvious places to store things while jet lagged wouldn’t look that way 3 weeks later. Lucky for me, most of them did. Haven’t lost much. Did take me 2 weeks to find a pair of shoes. Can’t find the photo gear padded insert for my daypack, but I didn’t try very hard because –

Moving the Former Airbnb Stuff Out of My Way

I’m going to move the Airbnb stuff in the bedroom I use to the bedroom I don’t use. Actually will use it when I reassemble my PC bits in a new computer case and add a monitor. Also will move unused kitchen stuff into that bedroom. Unlike unpacking after arrival, I’ll do it on paper before doing it for real.

Why a 2 bedroom? Rooms are small here. Wanted a second one for computer desk, dry box for camera and lenses, empty luggage storage, and a bicycle if I buy one.

Exercise Walking

Fewer obstacles to deciding to walk than in Thailand. I’m not limited to: 1) Avoiding the heat by walking early in the morning or after dark, 2) Streets with sufficiently large margins to separate vehicles from pedestrians, except for a few narrow ones in the town center, 3) Streets with inclines either too shallow to raise my heart rate to desired level, or so steep as to hurt my knees, 4) Streets where the packs of soi dogs are friendly. Haven’t seen a stray dog here yet.

Eating Habits

From previous trips, I knew I wasn’t going to pig out on pastries, despite living 50 m from the best traditional pastelaria in town. Then I tried Salame de Chocolate for the first time. Ohhhhh Nooooo. Is it as heart unhealthy as it tastes? Recipe check says yes. Lets see if I have the willpower to buy 1 a week, eating half there and saving the rest for another day. It’s not going to help that blood test results from last week show all cholesterol and related numbers were in the excellent range.  Link to Google Images.

For the first time since Nov 2008 March 2010 my apartment has a kitchen. Yea! Living in Hua Hin meant toast that was usually barely warm, always too lite, and with one exception, bread that I tolerated at best. It was there I realized how much I liked toast and that I took something seemingly that simple for granted. I’ve been making up for the deficit with the aid of French jellies and jams. So far, my favorites are Fig, Chestnut with Vanilla, Rhubarb, and Red Currant, in that order. 


Adventures in Speaking Portuguese

This happened during my second visit to a shop selling whole and half flattened grilled chickens. I was served by the same man each time. The following exchange between him and myself was ALL in Portuguese, except for one word by me. His questions were short and simple, e.g. how many, whole or half, here or take away, as were my answers. Then he asked which sauce. I could tell from the graphics there was chili pepper hot, orange, or lemon. Didn’t know the word for lemon. I asked. After he replied, I pronounced it mostly correctly. He said it again, I nailed it. Then, as he was applying sauce he said ‘Thank you for learning Portuguese.’ I replied with a sincere Portuguese version of ‘Many thanks, sir’.

How much does it cost to live there?

March 26, 2019

One of the most common questions by people in the earliest stage of considering living in Portugal is about the cost of living. They’re usually sent to I’ll be able to estimate my cost of living after a few months here. Until then, and because this blog needs photos, the details of my visit to the market yesterday, converted from Euros and metric.


Sandwich Ham – 7 oz @ $.84
FRESH, juicy Strawberries – 1 lb 2 oz @ $1.80
Broccoli – 15 oz @ $1.42
Tangerines – 1 lb 3 oz @ $1.12
100% OJ – 1 qt 2 oz @ $1.51


Took this photo after the strawberries reminded me of Jar Jar Binks. Seriously.

Unexpected Risk of Liquid Bath Soap

March 18, 2019

I had life in Thailand pretty well figured out, so this is the first ‘unexpected risk’ post since 2012. New country, new unexpected risks. To explain the liquid soap risk requires understanding the combined effects of building materials and cost of electricity in Portugal.

Before applying for a visa I knew:
– Portugal has either the highest or one of the highest electricity prices in the EU.
– Older buildings have little or no insulation.
– My apartment is in an older building.
– Many expats who first try living in other provinces post online about relocating to the Algarve (southernmost, warmest, too bleeping hot in the summer for me) because their homes were either too bleeping cold or the cost of heating them was too bleeping high.
– For many expats ‘too cold’ meant having to wear more clothes indoors than they wanted to.
– The lowest cost heating method is a  pellet stove . “A pellet stove is a stove that burns compressed wood or biomass pellets to create a source of heat for residential and sometimes industrial spaces. By steadily feeding fuel from a storage container (hopper) into a burn pot area, it produces a constant flame that requires little to no physical adjustments.”.

The pellet stove is in the living room. It has been running 24 hrs a day. Its fan pushes warm air into the room, after that the temperature falls off with distance. Temps in the apartment are consistent: 21C (70F) in the living room near the stove, 20C (68F) in the Kitchen, 19C (66F) in the bedroom and bathroom, and 17C (62.5F) in the unused and closed door second bedroom.

My low cost shower technique is wait for ‘warm enough’ water, get wet, then turn the water off. The unexpected risk was squeezing 19C soap into my palm, then realizing how cold that was going to feel on the rest of my body. I had no other choice, so after remembering a saying* I first heard when rock climbing in the early ’80s, I found out just how cold it was. As I type this a small plastic squeeze bottle with enough soap for 2 showers is sitting on a table in the living room. 21C liquid soap is not a problem.

*They say falling from a great height is like taking a cold shower. As long as you keep screaming, it’s not too bad.