Week 26: Bread and salt
On Thursday the escritura ceremony took place: the signing of the deeds. We gathered with the Sensibles and their lawyer, our lawyer and the agent at the offices of a notary, whose job it was to update the deeds via a computer linked to a large, wall-mounted screen for everyone to observe. Then the four of us – the Sensibles and we two – signed the printout. In the preceding days tears had been shed, mostly by Mrs Sensible, with whom I felt enough empathy to want to cry as well, but in the notary’s office we all behaved ourselves.
Our lawyer is wonderful: unassuming but well organised and guillotine-sharp. Everything went very smoothly. Almost everything. Among his tasks was to present the Sensibles and the agent with bankers’ drafts – we had lodged the necessary euros in his client account in advance, of course. A small flurry went through the room when it turned out that the agent’s draft was three euros short. In a good-natured way, our lawyer showed the email from the other lawyer with the amount specified, which revealed where the mistake had been made. He then took three euro coins out of his pocket and stacked them up on the agent’s draft, to everyone’s satisfaction.
Our agent is forceful and unconventional, as you will know from previous descriptions. It would be fair to say that she is cut from a different cloth to our lawyer, and I suspect they did not always see eye to eye in their dealings with one another, but each has served us very well. The agent took me to the electricity suppliers’ office once the signing was done. On the way she complained about someone she has to deal with who doesn’t submit to her ways. ‘Ach, donkeybrain,’ she said. ‘Making so much trouble.’ She helped me set up an account, calling up my bank to obtain a critical number that was somehow missing from my paperwork. (Actually, it was just two existing numbers put together.) While in the electricity office she got the man there to make a few photocopies of her own paperwork for her. Another triumphant smile flashed at me. Impossible not to admire her.
We met up again, the Sensibles and us and our characterful agent, at a roadside restaurant where we drank to the new state of affairs with a bottle of red wine, just within shelter of the suddenly torrential rain. Then the agent left, and eventually so did we – back to the reliable comforts of the Chalet, while the Sensibles returned to what was now our home for the next two days. An untypical arrangement, which worked for us.
It remained rainy until Saturday, when we drove up to our new house in beautiful sunshine. The Sensibles had gone, leaving us bread and salt – the traditional housewarming gift of the people of Saxony – and a lovely message in German and Portuguese: a warm German welcome into our new Portuguese home.
It is week 26 and therefore exactly halfway through my blog journey, and it feels like just the right time to have taken over our house in the Algarve.