Portugal- Dessert in a Desert

Now in Portugal, I have to say I feel very lucky to have this time in such a relaxing place. My dad’s house here is a newer one than I visited last time, this time being in the Western Algarve. The weather is always sunny and hot, but it’s a dry heat, so not sweaty and sticky. He lives in what is practically a desert in an unusual, ‘rectangular dome’ house that is one of a kind. It is all on one floor, with a concrete roof and wide open spaces everywhere. Solar power heats it in the winter and the water now, and it has a swimming pool that is almost totally automated. The funny thing is that despite having this revolutionary design, one which led to some heated arguments between the builders and the architect as to whether it could actually work, it is also very comfortable. Photos will of course follow, so you can see exactly what I mean.
The only sounds around here are those from the local insects and birds, including the evening ‘screech owls’ (which seem to be absent these days), that aren’t quite as pleasant as the cicadas and crickets of the day-time. The plants are also very nice, with lots of carob trees, which I have tried eating from and it tastes good to me (though it’s generally for animal-feed!) and almond trees, which you can just get a nut straight from. There are also cacti with fruit known as ‘sabras’, but with all their spines, are a bit too dangerous to deal with. In the years ahead, citrus trees and tomatoes will be added to the mix, but it is all early days yet. All in all it reminds me of my days on Kibbutz Tzeelim, in the Southern Negev Desert.
Swimming in the pool before a setting sun, the smells of the surrounding earth and the melodic sounds of the insects around you, is a truly relaxing experience. Somehow this act of swimming brings all the sensations together, just as I find being in the sea helps me to appreciate the beach all the more. The food is also all really fresh, being probably the best in Europe, carefully grown yet less mass-produced than in nearby Spain. Sometimes it is like eating something for the first time, so great is the taste! In this kind of an environment, everything seems fresh and inviting, especially the simple things in life that we usually take forgranted.

NB. The desert in the title refers to some jellies I brought over from Japan that look like goldfish swimming in a pond. Really though, I just liked the sound of it!

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