Like any country that suddenly finds itself prosperous, Andorra imported workers.
Although, in Andorra's case it was even more necessary because the Andorrans were only about 10% of the population.
Many Portuguese saw this as a wonderful opportunity. They would pack up the family, move to Andorra, work ridiculously hard for 7 or 8 years, then return to Portugal to retire at a very young age.
This was before Portugal's own economy took off – I have no idea who does the labor in Andorra these days.
We had an extension put on our house in Andorra, all done by a Portuguese crew.
Their day went something like this:
8:30 leave, go down the mountain for second breakfast of ham baguettes and beer
9:30 return and start working
11:00 break for coffee – and brandy if it was cold
11:15 back to work
1:00 leave, go down the mountain for lunch of a full 3 courses and the better part of a bottle of wine – and brandy if it was cold
3:00 return and start working – this was when I usually heard a bit of joke-telling and a few bawdy songs
5:00 afternoon break for coffee and a sweet
5:15 back to work
7:30 pack up for the day and leave
We did not pay them by the hour.
They were done on schedule, just before Christmas. All Andorran projects were finished before Christmas so they could get their money and go home for the holidays.
The crew did excellent work, mainly with hand tools.
We thought of them fondly, yesterday, as we used one of their marvelous, inventive tools: a level.
It has the little water bubble that one lines up between the lines.
Mon mari also has a fancy laser level that sits in once place and shines a beam around the room.
But, the problem was to make the same level mark in all the rooms, to measure from, to make the floors level.
Answer: the Portuguese Level
A hose, as long as you want it, filled with water.
One person holds the water level at a predetermined height. The other person can wander all around the house, marking the level of his water and it will be the same level. It works around doors, walls, as far as you like. (yes, I removed my finger when we were 'leveling')
Isn't technology marvelous?
Speaking of technology…..
I finally have an internet connection. (I was right, it wasn't working…. They came yesterday and fixed it)
Of course, I still only get to use it a few hours a day as we are not living here yet…. but a few hours is ever so much better than a few minutes….
I'm so excited!!!!
This is my new office… in the middle of the kitchen-to-be. (That's not a table' it's the rack for staining and varnishing ceiling boards.)
My days of drinking coffee at the local cafe with free WiFi and eating at McD's (also free WiFi) are over… I hope….
I'm actually writing this ON-LINE!!!!!!!
As I am still cooking in the kitchen from hell, I am still making easy food.
One could call this "Pantry Soup" … Everything is probably already there. In case you need some cold weather ideas….
Cannellini and Pasta Soup
1 small onion
1 tbs olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup small pasta
1 cup white beans
1 tbs parsley
2 tbs shredded cheese
Chop onion and sauté in oil until tender. Add chicken stock and heat to boiling. Add pasta and cook, partially covered, until pasta is tender. Add beans and parsley and heat through. Divide into 2 serving bowls, sprinkle with cheese and serve.
We had it for a starter. If only everything were so easy.
One thing I did learn from our workers in Andorra…. Make the job enjoyable. It's how you spend your day, after all…