That’s the way it goes in Portugal

“Stop, you stupid, you can ask, can’t you?” I am often rude to myself, but that’s okay, I’m used to it. I was on my way home from Figueira and drove past a site with fallen trees. People were still working. The sound of chainsaws is not particularly attractive, so the tendency to speed past is enormous.

But as I’ve been looking for a specialist to cut my palmtree for some time now, this is an opportunity

And that’s the way it goes in Portugal

I better not let this slip.

I stop, drive back in reverse, and get out of the car. There’s a woman at the beginning of the site, who seems to be a sort of supervisor. You see that more often – a team of hard-working men with a female chief. Funny really, in such a traditional country like Portugal, I think vaguely, but no time for these kind of philosophies, my attention on to what I have to ask.

It’s easy. Hey, am I not the dona das Termas? Yeah, and hasn’t my son attended the school in Paião? Yes, how nice, and look:

I have a challenge for you

You have to make problems as easy as possible imagine, I learned, and you certainly should not frown, because that’s contagious. Then your counterpart will frown as well, and that’s the sign for “Uh-oh, careful, note, difficulties, asking something complicated, better stay out of it, keep your hands clean, hornet’s nest, pitfalls, before you know it you have worked yourself in an awkward position! ” – And then you’re off to a bad start.

I would very much like them to come and saw down an impossibly tall palm tree, which also stands in an impossible place.

Now, a palm tree seems to be a lovely holiday attribute, but that’s for tourists. Sorry.

They are nasty creatures, full of tough fiber which blunts your chainsaw in a jiffy, and have an acidic liquid that smells like something midway between a long not cleaned litter box and a forgotten gym bag with used sportswear.

Nobody wants such an experience – nobody with any experience!

When it was still alive, I was wondering how high a palm tree can be, and when it stops, and what happens then. It seemed as if it had the “tower-of-Babylon syndrome”.

All these questions were premature, because before they were but a little relevant, the tree died because of the palm beetle.

Palmtree beetlebabies feed steadily from the top throughout the whole tree. I had a couple of dead palm trees, but they were much lower. They had fallen. Not bad, but this was a different story.


This was 15 meters dead palm tree

Ah! They know the place (Termas-da-Azenha traditionally is known throughout the whole region because of the running water) and they even know the dead tree, they sometimes pass by it. Beautiful! We agree for next Saturday, they will come and have a look.

I get in the car again, very content and happy, and than I realize that I did it once again. I should have known! Stupid!

I left my number, but I do not have their number.


And of course it goes as always: the next Saturday – nobody to be seen.

I don’t mind so much. That’s how it goes here in Portugal.

Eight Saturdays later, when I’m unsuspectingl having lunch behind my laptop, someone calls: “Olá Dona Helena!” Two men on the sidewalk. One of them is vaguely familiar to me – do I remember him? Um …. yes ….

It’s clear very soon, and it’s also clear that they do not come to talk. They are coming to cut down a palm tree.

Ok, fine, great, um … what did you think … how are you going to ….?



No problem, they’ll figure it out. Do I have a ladder?

The ladder appears to be very inefficient, so cutting from top to bottom it is not working. Then they will cut it at the base. Matter of making a triangle in the right place, and the other man with a rope to draw it to the right side.

For me this is a higher level of “let it go”. If that tree is going to fall in another direction, there is no man and no rope that will stop it. Ok, trust, faith and confidence, my dear!

Quite rightly, it turns out. That monster of 15 meter high with at least 1 meter in diameter and a too high BMI can only fall one way, with a margin of error of about 0.1%.

It ends up in exactly the right place. It even doesn’t hit the Nespereira * which is just outside the margin of error of 0.1%. Incredibly well done of these men.

Extremely relieved, I go and get some beer for the workers. When I come back, the boss made an easy chair out of the remains of the tree.

Oh well, yeah, easy ….










* a nespereira is a fruit tree that always stays green. The fruit looks like apricot. It’s a typical portuguese tree.


Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation.

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