Okay – “the thing” that has been the benchmark of our renovation is finally happening – our albergue roof is going on! It has been months since the steel girders went up. We have been waiting and waiting for the rain to stop and then it was the matter of finding a team of carpenters who would take on Geof’s testament to Gustave Eiffel of the Paris tower notoriety. Oporto has a number of constructions made by Eiffel, including a beautiful bridge. From the moment we began planning the renovation, we knew our visits to Oporto and the bridge would play a role.
On Friday, we had three teams working. In typical Portuguese fashion, we had the team of carpenters, who are under contract for a fixed price build, soliciting the support from our two work teams – who are paid by the day. Frankly, we were so relieved to see our roof go on, we simply laughed at the ingenuity! It was particularly exciting to hear their eight voices shouting at each other to “get with the program” – in a joyful, kind of exhilarating manner. I think for all of us involved in this project, this was a seminal moment.
So – the floors are all finished in both houses ready to be tiled, the walls are all repointed -inside and out and once the roof is on, we can finish the cement walls with stucco. I think our windows and doors contractor never thought we would get to this point – so he may be a bit behind the eight ball in getting these ready for us. Well, that hill is for another day.
Today is a day of thanks – thanks to our wonderful family who have supported us during the darker days of this process. My dad, Denis George, made his Camino from the Beautiful Boot to Santiago’s Pilgrim Rock at 92 this spring. He walked down our Camino path and then we took him by car to Santiago. He walked onto the plaza outside the Cathedral and stood on the same rock where we have stood – in the pouring rain! (We all were crying!) My sisters Hilary and Amanda, along with Amanda’s partner, Ian made the journey here to lend their love and inspiration when all they could actually “see” were ideas in action.
Our children, Graham, Reid, Mary Ellen, Terralynn, Simon and Sam have been amazing in cheering us on. I mean, let’s face it, they think we are nuts – but they have gotten past this and and all are making their way over. My brother, Andrew has made all of the travel arrangements, tirelessly changing flights on last minute notice. There are Geof’s siblings, in particular Pam and Steve who have Facebooked their way through the ups and downs. Our friend Sarah MacLaren came when there was nothing to offer but a cold bedroom in our little cottage. And then there are the incredible people in Canada whose ingenuity have made the financing of this project possible – Jane Arsenault and Carl Boswick. Our Portuguese friends Eleanor, Donald, Trisha, Manual, Liberia, and Vitor have walked the property at each stage of its unfolding – listening to our joys and our woes., And of course there is Carlos, our contractor and the workmen who have stood by us throughout this journey – even when they had to wait a month to get paid. (In this modern era of electronic transfers, how can it take a month to clear a cheque????)
And then there is our thanks to you who are reading our updates and cheering us on. OBLIGADO!!!