Getting a haircut in Portugal

Portugal really is one of our favourite countries. Silves is one of those old, historic, windy-narrow-cobblestone-roads kind of city that makes a great experience. One of my fondest memories is getting my haircut as my Christmas gift. We were really broke but we all had 5 Euros each to get a present.My present was an awesome haircut.

The barber was eldery and quite arthritic which was awkward to watch. But what an amazing barber!!! He took nearly an hour. It was great. And of course the photo turned out well also.

Portugal Spain

Hanging in Spain and Geocaching success

So to catch up or should I also say “Cache” up. He, he, he.

We went out the next day to try again. We looked at the comments and looked for one that everyone found that tried. and……


So we touched into Portugal and Paulo and Edna came down to see us at Monte Gordo. Paulo found a little Chameleon.We named him Fred and put him in a comfy tree after giving him lots of cuddles.

We got a new football as our old one went astray in Morocco. Of course, we had to test it, so we put our best footie player on the job.

We went to find some friends in the Beneficio Family in the South of Spain. We could not stay at Beneficio because a landslide last winter blocked the road in but we found the most amazing collection of communities of traveller folk, gypsies and circus people from all around the world at the other end of the valley.

Trucks and geodesic domes, yurts and tiny stone homes everywhere, with lots of kids to play with. We are not seeing much of our kids these last few days as they now have many friends to keep them occupied. Many people have just left to “do the festivals” but enough remain to make some good friends.


Going Geocaching

We have been checking out the Geocaching website. I found out about it on Families on the Road. They have a “Roadschooling” section. Seemed like a natural fit.

I watched the little videos. Showed it to the kids. It looked so easy. It is like a treasure hunt with a GPS. There are these amazing little treasure boxes buried all over the world. “Cache in, trash out” is their little slogan. You find these little treasure boxes. If you take something out of the box you put something in of the same or greater value. What fun! No worries. Right? Time for our quest of epic proportions. A treasure hunt.

In Morocco we didn’t have maps for our Nuvi GPS, for Africa, so we tried to use “Girlpod”. Our dear little Girlpod is a handmedown ipod touch with a broken screen. We gave her a facelift (replaced the glass) but she is still a little old lady (old ipod touch) and in need of frequent life-support (electricity) as her heart (battery) is that of a little old lady. Her battery has seen many moons and would only take us one hour into our quest. Not nearly enough time for a quest.

Back to yesterday. Attempt number 2.

We start off singing. “We’re following the leader. the leader. the leader….”. We took off to find the first cache.

A construction site. They are redoing the roads. We look longingly out at the bus stop in a cage. Bus stops should never be in cages of construction. It must be in there, we thought. Lets try another one.

Not another construction site. It couldn’t be.

At this point I pointed the way home for the kids. They can make it back without me. I must find one of these little boxes. Isn’t this like a kids homeschool thing. I like puzzles, for goodness sake, I am good at puzzles. When all was lost I navigated my family back to the truck without getting lost IN FES! Everybody gets lost in Fes, Andrew got lost in Fes, repeatedly, though he will probably never FES UP to it. Dang, I am sure not going to let some silly kids game get the best of me. Determined to trek on til I FIND A GEOCACHE BOX. I can be quite stubborn at times. Only occasionally. Uhhhhh. The kids unanimously decided to continue on our quest. I think they regretted it later. Could be the 4+ km of extra trekking for the next geocache. Maybe they are as stubborn as me. Trying for geocache number 3 we see many wonders along the way.

Pink bear and rabbits in captivity.

A headless bear with a button “guess who killed the cat”. Hmmmmm.

We played in the sun (get it?!? There was a sun in the middle of the roundabout. A sun in the sun. Ha. Ha. Hmmmm.)

We skipped along the yellow brick road.

The third geocache place was much more scenic. Pine trees. Dirt trails. Still, no luck. In real life it could be GONE. STOLEN. Maybe our geocache is MIA. These things are so hard. Maybe nobody has found these for years. Perhaps we have stumbled  across the most difficult level of geocaching. Perhaps no one has EVER found these enormously difficult geocaches.

We come to grips with our defeat. Finding comfort in the fact that these were geocaches of an extremely difficult level. We find consolation in other ttreasure on the way home. Treasure like pink shells and starfish.

We contemplate the day.

Surely these things must be findable perhaps they were especially difficult geocaches.

We get home to discover they were, in fact, exceptionally easy ones to find and gazed unbelievingly at the cocky faces of the LAMERS that have found our geocaches before. Ooooh they think they’re so smart. ONE of them found one of OUR geocaches only 2 days ago. Perhaps it was one of THEM that stole it. See what can happen to a, somewhat normal, middle aged woman when she plays kids games. Knock yourself out of it Deb.

After about an hour or so of going back and forth, unbelievingly, between the pages about OUR geocaches. Looking at the photos of the uh… particular individuals… that were successful. I am determined to go out again the next day. TODAY. As I make my declaration the girls all pitch in. WE will go out again. We won’t let some silly little geocaches get the best of us. Seriously now, we have trekked the Sahara. We have been chased by drug dealers in the Rif mountains. We aren’t going to let a silly little kids game get the best of us. WE WILL go out again today. They are MY stubborn little offspring, plus 1, after all. Grrrrr.


A word about Paulo and Edna and Family

So, been having some great conversations with Paulo and Edna. Living in the Algarve in a bizarre mix of abundance and simplicity and love. Their home is a flat in a rundown villa. They have a circle drive, a beautiful pool and majestic patios. The furnishings are simple and well used. There are animals galore and kids, laughter and crying. There is a toilet that we keep getting locked into because the doorknob refuses any attempts to repair it. There is really weird plumbing (dont want to go into that one).

Paulo and Edna lived in Porto, in the north of Portugal. He had a thriving Tattoo business, 20 years of clients that kept coming back and referring their friends. He was doing 14 tattoos a day. Lots of fame. Lots of money. He came down here to the Algarve to have a life with less tattooing, less money and more time with his family. He has just opened a small tattoo parlor on a back street in the poorest city in western Europe when he could have opened one In Faro where all the money is.

Edna was a model. She celebrated finishing her modeling career by getting her first tattoo on her ankle. She is now pierced, tattooed and head shaven. She says those days of being a model weren’t really her. With a twinkle in her eyes she says she was never really much for caring what other people thought. BTW she also turned away from fame and money. Lately, she has been offered a full-time job doing really good things of helping poor people in the area. She said she doesnt want to do it. “Don’t need the money and I would miss my time with my babies, the mornings I have with Paulo and when nice people come and stay at our house I wouldn’t be able to spend time with them. I can also still help out but I dont want to work away from home full-time.” And she does help out – alot.

You know what I am going to say. They have had what so many want- money, fame. They turned away from it for a happier life. Kinda different huh. I tell you, I think they have the right idea. Sure, their lives arent perfect. They celebrate the uniqueness in themselves and each other and the world around them. They celebrate simple small joys. They even celebrate smelly dogs and nappies. They live unique lives where they celebrate the life in the big and small, the ups and downs of life. What a wonderful family.

mum's rants Portugal

Mums Tattoo


Well, I finally did it. After over 12 years of talking about it I finally got my tattoo. Paulo worked on it for 2 hours. It did hurt – alot. He would still like to do some more colour. But, this is the one I have been imagining all those years. It is the tree of life with a wild vine wrapping around and from it. I am Sooooo happy.

I guess I never thought it was the right time because a tough guy stranger etching a permanent mark on me that represented my spiritual journey was just not the image I had. But, when I met Paulo I knew I trusted him and I respect him and his own spiritual journey. Just seemed the right time and the right person to do it. I have been talking to Paulo about doing it since May. I have found out that Paulo is not just a great person but one of the best tattoo artists in Portugal. He has been doing tattoos for over 20 years. He said that when he first wanted to do tattoos you couldnt buy a tattoo machine so he made his own out of a blow dryer.

He did many sketches in November before finding one that we both liked after about a month of efforts. It is a different sort of thing combining a tree and a vine I guess. So, I went into Spider Tattoos in Olhao today with Paulo and Serge and have come back with “ink”. Andrew and Sam are kinda jealous I think. I am so pleased. Paulo said it might not seem like my arm, at first, when I see it in the mirror, but actually, I recognize it. It has been in my imagination for so long and is perfect. I love it.

Food Portugal

Hannah’s Birthday


Today was Hannah’s 12th birthday. It was a day filled with joy, happiness and drifting with tasty smells of chicken and banana cake. The Jones family tradition consists of the birthday person getting to choose the food that they want for breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc. Hannah chose English Breakfast, tuna sandwiches, banana and chocolate milkshakes, Lemon and Thyme chicken, passionfruit Sumol and Banana cake with chocolate fudge frosting. What she didnt ask for is the special candles that kept relighting themselves. She got lots of great gifts including a nano, rain poncho, a very cool bag that Edna made, and a plastic teaset from Paulo that the boys were also enjoying.


A snapshot. in the Algarve

The rain and wind swirled around us all night. The sun came out this morning. I was so happy I ran around taking pictures of everyone. Ever feel like doing that? Capturing a moment? A snapshot.


Gee, what a surprise. Lizzy is in the truck playing the sax. She is jamming to beatles songs. She has been enjoying doing this so much lately that she has numb lips at the end of each day.


Abi and TJ are cooking flapjacks in the house. MMMMM it smells great.


Hannah learned how to crochet yesterday. She slept with it last night and woke up crocheting this morning.


Dang, those boys are still sleeping in their tent.


I am rushing around taking photos of unsuspecting people.


Andrew is on his computer putting the world to rights and comforting friends.

How is this moment for you?


Flapjacks are done. Edna came in to share a coffee.

Another moment.


Christmas in Portugal

Christmas in Portugal. We are staying at the Conscious Earth Eco-village. We will ask them to heat up the sauna for Christmas day.


They also have an outdoor kitchen where we will cook out our rolled turkey in raisin and orange sauce. Yes, we are in the middle of an orange grove so finding oranges is pretty easy.


Its a nice place to be this Christmas.


Hanging up some washing on one of the tipi bases.

Europe Portugal

Camping in a Hurricane

Last night there was a hurricane. Serious, no exaggeration. First the teenager report than the official one from the news guys. Me and Andrew had a great time watching the light display and hearing the music of the rain from our bed through the night. A bit worried about Samuel and Alana (Donald stayed back because he was a bit under the weather and Elizabeth stayed back because she didn’t understand the attraction of an all nite party). They went off with Eddie and Rubin to an all nite beach party. Turns out that they didnt go to the beach but opted to stay at a shed outside a Dutch and Jamaican household who happen to be dance instructors and gave them dance lessons well into the night. Samuel announced triumphantly this afternoon that he had learned to do a headstand while dancing.

So anyways, away from the very clever teenagers that avoided a beach front performance of a hurricane and back to our would be romantic evening from our Maggie if it wouldn’t have been for the 5 young people sleeping in the truck. So the truck rocked like a cradle all nite. The light display and rain gave way to winds that kept sucking our door open, so we locked the door, seemed sensible. That was it. The next morning the bridge at the edge of the land was out, the river was overflowing and a very large electric metal tower thing bent over midway across a house to get the road into town closed during the day.

I started thinking. As I do too much. We had so much fear of being so vulnerable while we lived in our motorhome and here we are riding out a frost, an earthquake and now a hurricane. All this within a week. Why should we be afraid. I believe in a loving God who holds us affectionately in his arms. How many times does fear keep us from doing what we want to do. Fear keeps us from living a life filled with passion for living. Why should we be afraid. We have been in an earthquake and a hurricane in one week in our beloved Maggie. Way vulnerable but way protected.


Silves and the grooviest campground in the Algarve

We went to Silves, Portugal and met some more nice people, including Klaus, “Like Santa he says”. We looked around a bit. We like Silves but were feeling really scruffy and were kind of dissapointed after determining that the pool was way over priced for us. It also required speedos for men, one piece suits for girls and bathing caps for both. Lizzy had a sort of ‘sour grapes’ response and decided we didnt LIKE the pool anyways because they had too many rules and decided to look for other options. We agreed but were still feeling scruffy. Looking to the internet for answers in the WIFI zone next to the pool like others would look into a crystal ball, Andrew came bouncing back to the truck. “I have found the place. The best place ever. Debbie, you will love it. It is called ‘Conscious Earth‘ and is only a few km away.”

Conscious Earth is the “grooviest campground in the Algarve’ so we just HAD to see it. Our GPS proved again to be clueless so we went old school. We noticed on their not-so-detailed map that the place was north of Silves. OK, north, so we drove on unmarked roads, through the ancient village of Silves with our giant truck trying to keep to the north of the village looking for the road that nuvi said didnt exist. I tried to resist images of last Easter Sunday in the north of Portugal and join Andrew in his enthusiasm. We finally found a 2 lane unmarked road going north into the hills and decided to take it. After going up a ways and finding several potential wild camping spots we started looking for a place to turn around and was greeted by the driver of an oncoming car. “We knew you would be coming. I saw you in Silves this morning and knew you would be coming to camp at our place.” We looked into the back of the truck and saw the looks on the kids faces. Mixed looks of disbelief, joy and shock. He and his wife turned around and took us over the next hill to ‘Conscious Earth’. Oh yeah, Andrew was right. I think this is the best campground ever for us.

So, we are now camping at Conscious Earth in the middle of an orange grove with Hammock island, Teepees, Outdoor kitchen, pizza nite, wood-fired sauna, all you can eat oranges and…..this little piece of heaven is run by…


a family that lived on the road for 4 years with their New Zealand housetruck! No lie! So we are having a great time here – all of us.


We have the local eccentric, Adi and his 16 year old dog (TJ figured out 112 in people years). Seen here burning 2 days of packaging. He says that if you compress your packaging into a cube it can create alot of heat and keep the elderly warm. He said he got 45 minutes heat from one cube of packaging. Worth thinking about. He has a 4 berth camper. He sleeps on one bed and keeps his recording studio on the other. Complete with speakers, amps, lights and electric instruments.


Living here is a great family with 3 kids +1 that our kids get along with great. Jason is the dad and here he is, hosting pizza night with his glorious pizza oven.


It was so cold that we had severe frost one morning, we had an earthquake in the middle of the night and we have again brought our rain curse, oops blessing, they need rain here.

Still, having an amazing time.