Unexpected charming guests

“Hellooo! Someone there?”

Dog’s feet pattering, and a cheerful woman with curly hair sticks her head in, through a corner of the screen door. “Hello!” I reply, “Yes, sure, there’s someone here. Please, come in.”

I was just taking a break. In summer there are all kinds of people passing by, many Portuguese for the mineral water, but also people who have heard through word-of-mouth that we are here.

“This is Termas da Azenha, and you are Ellen?” she asks, while she is coming in.

After her, a man in a black T-shirt and with impressive eyebrows comes in as well.

“That’s right,” I say, still sitting, but now I’m trying to find my birkenstocks under the desk, to get up …. “Welcome!”

“Then we found it, perfect!”  the woman says, more to her husband than to me, but I respond with: “Was it difficult to find then?”

Yes, it has been somewhat difficult, but that was mainly because they do not have a gps, but instead used a map. They both make a very cheerful impression, so getting lost will certainly not have been terrible. We shake hands, they introduce themselves, and I immediately forget their names. Like I always do. I always try very much to pay close attention, and next time I’ll remember for sure, but it almost never works. Names are lost in the first impressions.

“We like to find a place on your camping, we have this guide” the woman says. “The guide of charming campsites of the ANWB*.”  I am surprised, the charming camping guide is a recent addition, and despite my initial hesitation, the gentleman of the ANWB was quite decisive about adding the Termas. “No, no, it may be simple, but this is such a nice place with all those mosaics, it should be in there, believe me,” said the man, and well, he should know.

We walk past their van to the campsite, and I can’t resist: I have a look.

“Sorry I’m peeping, but what a great van is this,” I say, “And you have the license number so big on the side?”

“Yes, our last van is stolen,” the man says, “and it was like this, a self-built camper, so when we thought we would solve it like this.”

Very clever, I think, even a beginner car thief can see right away that it is too much work to be interesting, and:  “It’s also on the roof, so you can also see us on Google Earth”,  the woman adds with a big smile.

When I have pointed out everything, and the tour is over, we arrive chatting at the village square. They look at each other and say almost simultaneously: “Do you happen to have a room free?  That would be so nice for Vonk because she thinks it’s very hot.”

I’m thinking for a moment, because there is no room left, but I have a very suitable house. They can park their van right in front in the yard. Then they’ll have everything at hand, and there it’s also cool. The dog can sleep on the terrace, with the fence closed.

Nice plan. They will get settled in Casa Pomarinho, but first they want to do some shopping, which means that I can straighten out some details. Put the garden furniture out, screens in the windows, fridge and water heater on, sweeping the stairs. Done. Welcome!

The next morning I meet them again, absolutely radiant. The internet doesn’t seem to work in the house (whoops, and my foster son Hugo is not here to fix it) but no problem, there is a good connection at the pool. And again we’re chatting about all kinds of things.

They are artists and have done some great things. They made a shipyard in Groningen and an old fortress (Spijkerboor) in Amsterdam into a museum – amongst other things. What a challenge to do!

And they have made something really beautiful of it! Used graphics, images and sound, so like this it is truly an experience for the public.

Meanwhile I remember their names, of course. Annet is the graphics one, Feiko is the draftsman and painter. Together they are a strong team on such a high level that no-one can compete. Not even a big company with lots of people. Big companies can’t make such authentic things.

I say, if you are not coming here on vacation, go and have a look in Amsterdam or Groningen. It is really worth your while.

I’m so glad they came unexpectedly. Thank you charming camping guide! This is a good start of the season!


*ANWB is the dutch automobile association