A Fine Start!

After a very smooth flight, it was wonderful to be back and seeing taxi driver Carlos' welcoming smile, just like coming home! I snuggled down into the cabs roomy back seat, leaving Hub & Carlos to chat as he took us on steady comfortable drive to Carvoeiro. As I relaxed, my feeling of content was overwhelming, their voices somewhere far off; a mere murmur. Before sleep overtook me, I peered through the window at the darkening Algarve sky. Stars were beginning to twinkle and an almost full moon shone brightly. Nearby, Mars sparkled clearly, giving me my best view yet of the red planet, reminding me once more of Algarve's wonderfully translucent atmosphere.

The jolting movement of the cab had me awake. Hubs words "You sure its up here Elle?" startled me into full consciousness. While Id slept, Carlos had been searching diligently for our holiday apartment along the cliff road near Carvoeiro church. I couldn't help. I had no map. I didn't have a clue! The next thing I knew, Carlos was out of the cab and knocking at a B&B close to the church. Eventually, a woman answered the door. Pulling her dressing gown around her, she spoke to Carlos in rapid Portuguese, seeming none to pleased as we'd brought her from her bed! But on hearing our problem, she gave a warm smile and proceeded to speak in good English. It was okay. She knew where apartment was. She had worked there once for the owners and after giving Carlos very clear directions we were soon on our way.

Ten minutes later we were standing outside the apartment. From instructions, we would find the key hung on light by front door. Hub removed the light cover and to our horror found the keys hanging from a naked light bulb; one of the keys so "hot" that its plastic label had melted!
The apartment was spacious and reasonably clean, with a small balcony leading from main bedroom and large sun terrace, with sea views, leading from lounge. Tired but hungry, I rustled up a quick meal of scrambled eggs on toast and large mugs of tea. Revived by food, drink and elated at being back in Algarve, decided on a walk down to CVOs praia for some refreshing sea air. Then, a few spritzers at Colombos and long chat with owners Marcus and Eugenia and we were ready for long walk back and a good nights sleep.

Sunday had us waking to blue skies and hot sunshine, so after shopping at the nearby mini-market, we decided to have a lazy afternoon soaking up the sun on the terrace. The evening had us dining at Colombos, our favourite eating place simply because its clean, food is good and the staff pleasant and welcoming. Our meal of "Hake, Portuguese style" was tasty and filling and after ice-cream dessert and coffees, we made our way onto the praia, to "people watch"; noticing that there seemed to be quite a lot of Portuguese families on holiday there.

Pleasantly tired, we eventually made our way back to apartment at around half eleven. Hub put the key in the lock and twisted it. Nothing! He tried again. Nothing. Again he tried. The lock remained in place; the door wouldn't budge! We had the one key on us and it wasn't working! We sat dejectedly on the step. What could we do? e had no tel. no or address of apartments manager on us. It was midnight and there we were, locked out and sitting in darkness. Then we noticed a long white cupboard below the kitchen window. Hub tried the key. The lock responded and there before us was a washing machine; the one Id been searching for in the kitchen!

There were iron grilles on all the window. So there was no other way of getting in. What to do? We decided, although very late, that we'd walk to CVO and see if the Portuguese lady in the B&B could help us at all, perhaps she had a number we could ring. On our arrival, the place was in darkness. We tried, just twice, ringing the bell. Her dog barked, but no one came and as we didn't want to alarm her, we gave up. There was no alternative but to book into the Hotel Carvoeiro Sol on the praia.

The young man on reception, Miguel Rocha, was most helpful. There was a double room available. But after listening to our story (Looking very puzzled when I said we'd taken the washing machine key with us instead of door key) he suggested looking through the tel. book, to search for name of apart. manager. This he did, thoroughly and patiently, but to no avail. It wasn't registered. He also called the Tel. operator. But no luck. As he said, most people just use mobiles.
Our night in the hotel was restless, sleepless. It was very hot and we were worried about our things in the apartment. Everything was in there, money / passports / a wallet with credit cards. Confess that I did most of the moaning! Well! A woman is lost without lippy and fresh underwear, isn't she? Trivial but true!

We were up early, giving breakfast a miss. Our first port of call was the B&B near the church. I was praying hard that Laura (the Portuguese lady) would be in -- we seemed at a loss as what else to do. Then Hub had brainwave. He called Jamie in UK. Told him to search old e-mails for holiday booking. Meanwhile, our luck was changing. Laura was in and she welcomed us indoors and told us to sit down while she went through her phone book. But her search was in vain. No trace of managers no. We said many thanks for her kindness and I promised to let her know how we got on.

Half hour later, Jamie rang back. Great news, he not only had tel. no but address at Quinta Paraiso as well. We hurried to the taxi rank and was pleased to see Carlos' smiling face as he stood on the steps of Colombos. Told him of our terrible night. He sympathised, but like the hotels Miguel, also looked puzzled. I could guess his thoughts-barmy English! and that day I had to agree with him!

He took us straight to Quinta Paraiso and the managers villa. After, once again, relating our story of woe, we were given a new set of keys!
In less than 15 minutes we were back in our apartment. Everything was as we'd left it; except for one thing! There, on the shelf of the bookcase in the hall were 4 keys! Now we had taken one and know that we'd left two laying there. When did those other keys materialise? A mystery.

After a shower, change of clothes and something to eat I took a refuse bag to the bins nearby. Something colourful caught my eye. On looking down I noticed a playing card on the ground near the bin. I picked it up. It was the "joker"! I shivered. Took it back and showed Hub. His reaction was the same. Then, looking at the information pack given us by the managers, he said "See the lady's name Elle?" I looked. Her first name? "Joke"!

As we walked out, I looked up at the hot blue sky above and thought. Mmmm, the "Cosmic jokers at work again!
I shivered again, then hurried on after Hub. It was Monday. Lagoa's Saint day. We would need a Taxi to get there and as we walked down to Carvoeiro, I couldn't help but wonder what this days events would have in store for us!