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The Portuguese Lessons

First Published October 3rd 2010 by Constance 

Portuguese lessons

The Portuguese class is made up of a mixed platter of people from all over Europe, plus two Americans besides us.

We have enough English for a scrum, the Citizen among them (I am throwing the Scot and the Welsh in the mix). Then an adorable older couple from France, she must have been quite the beauty in her day, she is so lovely and so charming while playing at learning Portuguese while her husband feeds her the answers.

Then, this week, the Eastern bloc appeared. Two Vladimirs and a Svetlana from Russia, a woman from Moldavia, Marianna from Hungary, a scattering of Ukraines. Everyone in the Eastern bloc all seem to drive nice cars.

Ah, a wonderful U.N. of learning, all of us in little chairs, sitting at little tables at the Escola D. Joao II, without the tension of the U.N.....thankfully.  Three nights a week, Tuesday (Terca), Wednesday (Quarta) and Thursday (Quinta). Each lesson one and a half hours a week and lasts until June. The class is free and bonus, we just found out we are being paid two and a half Euros per class to attend, what a country!

Backstage With Metallica

 First Published June 1st 2012 by  Constance.

 Our friend, Claudia Pastorius and her 9 year old daughter Hannah dropped by Salir do Porto for a few days on their way to Spain.  During lots of grilled fish and other Portuguese fun she said she had all access tickets for Metallica asked us to go. 

Hannah’s bass player dad is friends with the bass player Robert Trujillo, Hell, yes, even a blues fan like me knows a musical legend when she sees one.  Earplugs in my pocket, Hannah had her doll she wanted to have signed by the band, we hopped the bus to Lisboa ready for the headliners at the Rock in Rio.

Don’t Call Them Gypsies


First Published March 17, 2013 by Constance

The life of a group of Gypsies looks very hard, something out of the past. We have been living a stone’s throw from three large tents with real Gypsies.  They have been camped in the field in back with their horses, carts and family.  We watch them, amazed that their life lived from the back of a horse cart, traveling from place to place, still exists today.   Just a few steps from the solidly middle class homes of our neighborhood.

They are, to be culturally correct, called Romanys. The Romani people and have lived in Portugal since the 2ndhalf of the 15th Century, there are 30,000 to 50,000 in the country.  These are the most hated people in Europe. I was amazed when I went to Google to see some sites on them; people post advice that goes way beyond “don’t let your daughters near them”.  When they pull their horse and cart up to the supermarket, store security goes into high alert.

A Simple Life in Salir do Porto

First published by Constance Houck, May 2012.

Salir do Porto

Living in the tiny Portuguese village of Salir do Porto for two-plus years has taught me important things that I forgot while living in the U.S.

A visiting friend described it as, “living in a postcard”. Multicolored cliffs rise from the water of the only natural bay on the Iberian Peninsular.  Ruins line the beach, the best pool art I have ever swam with. 

Adventures Abroad Returns!

Kevin and I packed up our lives in the States and moved to Portugal in 2010.  We traveled, hiked the countryside and greedily gobbled up everything our new little country had to offer.  Enjoying fresh produce from the farmer's market, fresh bread and fish delivered to our doorstep by trucks that came to the village every day.  Picking blackberries and figs in the fields by our house, walking down the hill for a swim then stopping off for a beer and chat with the locals. 

 We had great stories and adventures so I built a website and named it An Adventure Abroad to share the wonderful experiences, also the silly mistakes that expats make.  The more I wrote, people began to notice.  The website became recognized by travel blog associations, I was getting invitations to write for online magazines and even International Living asked me to submit paid articles. While I thought my blog was a fun hobby it was becoming successful and I was becoming recognized as a "real" writer!  Meanwhile, I had tripped and fallen, walking and climbing steps was becoming more and more painful.  Doctors at the emergency room said it was just siatica so I kept hiking and dancing, living my best life. 

A Cat with Every House

First Published January 9, 2012 by Constance

Chaneco, our first casa cat in Salir. When you live in Portugal, it doesn’t matter if you buy or rent, you can be certain of two things. There will be obnoxiously barking dogs within one or two properties of yours and your house or apartment will be equipped with a cat.

The dogs you can’t do anything about. They are usually safe and sound in the neighbor’s backyard garden, protecting whatever their little doggie brains decide need their fierce alert. That lets the other dogs know they have to sound the alarm and at any time of the day, and mostly in the middle of the night. The village is probably awaken thinking “#%@*% Dogs!”

Goodbye America…How Are You?

First Published September 11th 2010 by Constance 

In the words of my favorite overdosed blues rocker, Janis Joplin, “Tomorrow man, there ain’t no tomorrow…it’s just all one day…ya know man” then she slurred her way into the epic “Try” and into my personal herstory books.

My “one long day” is rising and setting on the western coast of Portugal.  With three pieces of luggage weighing 70 pounds each, a laptop and my Euros, my passport and fiscal number, my one way ticket in hand, I boarded the one plane a day into Lisbon.  “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose”, an inspirational earworm singing in my head, thanks Janis and of course Kris.

Now here I am, north of Lisbon, in a tiny village on the Atlantic.  The only U.S. citizen around as far as I can tell. OK by me!  After a month of taking all this in, this is what I have learned and am sharing in case you are thinking of selling everything and fleeing to a new land: 


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