Breaking into Carlos’ House and Doing Laundry

Wandering ’round Carlos’

When we woke up Carlos and Micaela had already left the house. So I sent Carlos a txt could we use his washing machine? We’d left our panniers on the bikes in the garage for the night but now we needed them as our shower stuff and everything else was in them. So we grabbed the key, shut the front door and went down to the garage (you had to go outside and down some stairs for that, as it’s a block of flats with a shared garage below).

Panniers lugged up the stairs, the door to the flat won’t open! We tried turning the key every possible angle, half in, all the way in, up side down….. nothing. Carlos obviously has a trick we don’t know. The lady upstairs became a little concerned at the two strangers wearing only underpants, T-shirts and bike boots, surrounded by dusty metal boxes, trying their best to break the door open.

We eventually managed to communicate our dilemma but she couldn’t help either. Climbing the balcony it is then: Aidan had opened our bedroom door to the balcony as soon as we woke up… The neighbors having breakfast on the balcony across the road started laughing and cheering our wobbly attempt at climbing the piled up panniers. –Wait! wasn’t there a ladder I’d seen in the back of the garage?

Problem solved! The door opened fine from the inside. There were just a few screws missing, so the handle doesn’t turn the bit that holds it closed. A pile of screws and nails on the windowsill beside it suggested previous futile attempts at fixing it. Oh well! I put the ladder back in the garage and then made some coffee while Aidan had a shower. I also did some washing up – and used up all the hot water. Oops! Sorry Aidan 😦

A txt came back: Of course we could use the washing machine, the house is our home now and we can use everything. That’s real nice! πŸ™‚ I stuffed all our stinky clothes in the machine, threw in lots of our hand wash (there wasn’t much washing powder left, and I didn’t want to steal the last bit) and switched it on. It started washing as it should – Yay! Nice and easy Laundry this time πŸ™‚

We drank the much needed coffee and had some breakfast, making plans for the day. The bikes needed a thorough going over…. oil check, tyre pressure, air filters, lose nuts and bolts….. And then there was the indicator and headlight issues too. After that we would go to the beach just around the corner, have some beers….

And then the washing machine drops dead mid-turn for no reason whatsoever! After staring at it for a while, just in case it would tell us whats wrong, we went on a hunt for the fuse box. Next to the front door? Nothing. Cupboard in the kitchen? Nope! One of the rooms in a corner somewhere? Anywhere?? No idea! I’ll just have a shower instead – the water was still cold 😦

Meanwhile Aidan had pulled the washing machine forward and checked the water filter, but couldn’t find the problem. Bummer! Decided to fetch some beers and more detergent to settle into a long laundry session followed by some bike maintenance (trust me, you need a cold beer (or two, or three…) for that πŸ™‚ …Found the fuse box!! It was in the hallway right in front of our noses. But no fuse blown. We obviously have no idea of how a house works anymore after having lived in a tent for so long. So back to the beer-laundry plan.

Carlos had pointed in a direction where there were supposed to be shops last night, but we had no idea what direction that was. So we set of down the wrong road and ended up in the dunes. Turned around and walked along a massive campsite to find a dead end. Turned around again and took the third option towards the beach. A nice lady reassured us that there definitely was a shop in the little touristy village by the beach down the hill.

The beach looked gorgeous! Hopefully the laundry won’t take too long, so we get to enjoy it before the sun goes down!

We found a Minimercado in the middle of lots of little houses and restaurants. Bought a huge box of hand-wash laundry detergent, as many beers as we could carry, and a bottle of wine as a thank you for our hosts. The Spanish and Portuguese cans of beer are smaller, as are the beers they serve in bars and I love it πŸ™‚ “What’s wrong with you???” I hear you cry. No really, it’s perfect! That way your beer doesn’t get warm and flat before you finish it. It’s like keeping half your pint unopened in the fridge while you drink the first half. Spotted a wickid lil bike on the way too πŸ™‚

The ready availability of hand wash laundry detergent in a random little corner shop makes me wonder. As does the tiny price of €1.45 for a huge box vs the princely sum of €5.00 for a very small bottle of machine wash laundry liquid…. Maybe in Portugal (or at least in this part) lots of people still do their laundry by hand? That should be some inspiration for my upcoming mission.

Back at the flat I tried the washing machine again, just in case. But it died again straight away. Beer and detergent at the ready I set about washing all our clothes, towels and even Kevlar jeans (they are a bitch to wring out!) in the big kitchen sink. Its a workout! Washing and washing and wringing and washing and then wringing some more… How medieval women managed to keep white linen white, I have no idea! Our dish cloth stayed grey with tomato sauce spots no matter what I tried! Mind you, now I finally had sparkly clean fingernails again πŸ™‚

Meanwhile Aidan set about making use of all the sockets in the house to charge all our phones, cameras, laptop and batteries. Then he made a start working on the bikes. Hm……. woman in the kitchen, doing laundry; man in the garage playing mechanic….

The laundry finally done, I went down to the garage to look at Seven’s indicator. Since both the indicators and the little dashboard light sometimes worked and sometimes not, I figured it must be either the switch or the relay. The relay looked nothing like it should according to the Haynes manual, so I wasn’t sure I’d located the right part. Opened the switchgear instead. Big crack in the casing that contains the actual switch, which could cause a loose contact causing it to work sometimes and sometimes not. Nothing I could do there and then, so put it back together. (Found out from youtube later, that there are tiny springs and metal balls that fly all over the place when you open it up…. damn glad I didn’t try opening it that day then!)

Ok, but I can at least fix the head light. Most likely the bulb is gone, so I’ll just put the spare one in, that I brought along. Bulb exchanged, aaand….. nothing! Same issue, no low beam! What could it be? Wiring? Fuse? Wait… Always check the simplest things first…. Yup! I had brought an old, broken bulb as spare. Oops! So much for fixing Seven then 😦 Put everything back together and Aidan had finished all the maintenance things (oil, air filter…).

Aidan cheffed up a yummie lunch of chorizo-pepper-courgette-rice and glazed carrots with a cold beer πŸ™‚ That’s better: man (chef) in the kitchen and woman working on the bikes (we’ll just conveniently omit my epic failure to actually fix the bike here) πŸ™‚

Then we finally headed down to the beach. Still a little too cold for swimming, so we just bumbled about, drank in the exiting calm of the sea and theΒ good feeling of the beach and took lots of pictures.

We walked along the coast until walking in the sand became too exhausting. Then went back along the road to the little village where we had found the Minimercado before. It was closed, so no more beers for the night. Another wickid lil runaround spotted though πŸ™‚ There seem to be lots of the in Portugal πŸ™‚

I was starving! So we did our usual routine of undecidedly dismissing several restaurants, before finally popping into one, because the menu said they serve woodpecker (pica pau). Turns out that’s a literal translation for a tapas style finger food. The waiter seemed like a real salesman at first, but then it turned out he really did want to find out what dishes would suit our taste the best (another lesson in cultural differences with language barriers…). Following some cross questioning, he got it spot on πŸ™‚ The salad of fresh octopus sashimi, finely chopped onion and red pepper in olive oil was yum! As was the cockles cooked in a mildly spicy onion and paprika sauce with buttered bread! Perfect πŸ™‚

Carlos phoned to say we shouldn’t wait up for them, they were busy in town till late, having a coffee with Daniel (pre-wedding nerves? πŸ™‚ ). Back at the flat we climbed the balcony again – we still had no idea as to what the trick to opening the door with the key was.

And then there was another dilemma: the only alcohol we had was the thank-you bottle of wine for Carlos and Micaela… So we opened it with a plan to buy another some time between leaving the house the next morning, and arriving at the wedding.

Sitting on the pink bed, glass of wine in hand, we flicked through the pages of the Atlas, planning our (sadly somewhat faster) route back to England, Ricardo’s tips from yesterday evening in mind. Then we wrote our diaries and Aidan soon passed out. So I finished the wine, switched off the light, and passed out too πŸ™‚

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