A Jew in the convent

Mertola, Portugal. The city is located in the far southern part of the country. On a map find the city of Faro on the Mediterranean southern coast and go inland, north and east a little on a map to find this village. The village is about 8000 people. Occasionally tourists wander in, but no tour buses or herds of tourists. Don’t worry the village has 4 ATM machines and three, count’em, Chinese plastic imported junk shops. All with as much Chinese plastic weird STUFF you can do without. The main tourist attraction is a castle that dominates the city. The castle was Moorish and the Christians conquered it in the 11th century. Lots of history was there in this small town, a former trading post for many civilizations. (See pictures.)

The artist residency —Convento Sao Francisco —is a quaint and lovely little hideaway. If you go to Lonely Planet they have an glowing account of the place and the the people who run it, two are artists. The place is an oasis of quiet. There is no road noise, no sounds at night except occasionally one of the six dogs barks a time or two. The Convento has a lovely garden and one of the owner’s sons, Louie, spends all his time as ground keeper. The entire property is 40 hectares in size. Anita has spent more time painting there than at any time in her life. I wrote about 6 hours a day. I just finished my first rough draft of a murder mystery, part of it is set in Ajijic.
We celebrated our anniversary here and we have been married…forever. No, 14 years.
This is a dry and undulating hilly country. Crops include olive trees (what else?) citrus and grapes mostly. The days have been hot, 90 plus degrees . The land yearns for rain. All is crackling dry and the drought tolerant flora and fauna are being put to the test. (Again, see pictures) Two days before we left some rains came and you could hear the land absorbing the moisture almost.
Odds and ends: In Portugal every meal served at a restaurant comes with olives, bread and olive oil. I think it’s a law. Before every meal at a restaurant they lay out a basket of bread, the above olives in a small plate, some butter and cheese. The first I thought this was free. It isn’t. When the bill came we were charged for what we ate. One place it was 10 euros, as much as a dinner. I guess you don’t have to eat it. Also I just learned three days before we were to leave that Mertola has scorpions, just like in olde Mexico. Never saw one though, but did see lots of mosquitoes and flies.
This entry was written in Dubrovnik, where we currently are.

Since FB has suddenly stopped putting in a link to use for photos, I am hoping this will work. Let me know if it doesn’t.



3 Responses to “A Jew in the convent”

  1. Pat Dismukes Says:

    Well, you’re back! I wondered what happened because nothing has been posted for awhile. If your murder mystery is as engaging as your travel posts no doubt your fans are in for a treat!
    Your fan
    Pat Dismukes

  2. Jackline Waye Says:

    Enjoyed reading your travel post. How great to hear about your creative productivity. I was unable to see the photos using your link.
    Jackline Waye

  3. Jackline Says:

    Anita, FYI. Now that we are Facebook friends, I am able to see these photos. This was the only link that didn’t previously work for me. Great photos.

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