A Cottage in Portugal

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Simon & Schuster, 1996 - Travel - 288 pages
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Their dream was to flee the harsh and unforgiving New England winter for a simpler life in the sunny climes of Portugal. All their friends told them it couldn't be done. Buy and renovate an old cottage in a land that time had forgotten? It was madness, impossible. Where would they find competent workers and craftsmen? The Portuguese were notoriously insular and suspicious of strangers. And even worse, the impenetrable government bureaucracy was known for looking with disfavor upon foreigners.
Against all the odds, Richard and Barbara Hewitt decided to buy a 300-year-old cottage in a tiny village just outside Lisbon. She was an artist, he a master builder. But it was to be an experience that neither of them had bargained for. They soon discovered that their picturesque dream house was structurally unsound and had one electrical outlet and no running water. Indeed, the entire village was without water, with the exception of a few private wells and the fountain that bubbled in the central square. The Hewitts' adventures - and misadventures - had begun.
Charming, funny, and high-spirited, this delightful true story portrays the inherent frustrations and hilarities of life abroad. More than once Barbara and Richard were tempted to give up. Progress was slow and the money was running out. But while guarded and suspicious at first, their new neighbors welcomed them to the village. Antonio, master mason and carpenter (or so he said), was so strong he could lift a cement-mixer over his head with one hand. He was also master of a dazzling variety of excuses for not showing up for work. And then there was Alberto, the electrician, who wired the house in the tried-and-true Portuguese fashion - by trial and error. But in spite of these many challenges, the Hewitts were enchanted by Portugal, from its heavenly climate to its remarkable denizens. Richard's descriptions of the beauties of the Portuguese landscape and the peculiar logic of the Portuguese way of life are loving and luminous, and are further enhanced by Barbara's exquisite line drawings.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Another American-couple-moves-to-European-village-and- renovates-a-house book. Hewitt, a builder, jack-of-all-trades, and writer-type, and his wife, Barbara, an artist whose overcute drawings adorn ... Read full review

A cottage in Portugal

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Hewitt and his wife, illustrator Barbara Finn Hewitt, have put together a delightful story of how they left their house and frenzied lifestyle in Massachusetts, packed up all their belongings, and ... Read full review


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About the author (1996)

Risbek (Richard Hewitt) moved from California to Kyrgyzstan in 1994 where he taught at the Academy of Agriculture in Bishkek. The next year he started a seed project in the high mountains. One rural Kyrgyz family "adopted" him. In this context Risbek started noticing the similarities highlighted in this book. He spent nearly 20 years in Kyrgyzstan.

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