When I say I live in the rural Algarve, I sometimes think city folk misunderstand what that might mean. I am not surrounded by livestock (but could be, if I had a different job). It means that where I have Saturday morning coffee looks nothing like a coffee shop from the outside, in the shopping mall sense of the word.
I was a little undecided as to what to wear this Saturday morning. On the agenda was a bout of what promised to be very dirty gardening. But that was to be preceded by a trip to the next town with a friend to take care of a few things which could not be done in the village. Can I wear my gardening jeans to the next town without suffering social shame? I decide that I can.
Whatever we do on a Saturday morning, a stop at the local shop in Alfontes, followed by a coffee next door is always item No. 1 on the list.
What is unusual in the picture below is that the machine parked outside the shop is not a tractor, for a change.
As I take the above photo, the proprietor of the shop appears at the door, mop in hand, and looks at me strangely. I explain that it is unusual to see this machine outside. I can tell she still thinks foreigners are strange, even though she once lived in Australia, and so many foreigners regularly cross her threshold.
I cross the road, put my head in through the door, and ask whether my friend has already been there. From behind the shelving I hear, “I’m still here!” As usual, I help her with her groceries, and then we repair to the coffee shop/bar for that morning coffee, where the operator of the machine and other locals enjoy an easy conviviality.
This is a very fine place place to have coffee. It is a place where no one minds that I have a funny little white car, or wear gardening jeans one day, and snazzy ones the next.
It is home.