After a long period of sunshine and warm weather, it's finally starting to feel like winter here in Samora Correia. Of a morning, a thin layer of frost covers the cars parked alongside the streets. People walk about bundled up in their winter coats and toboggans. Some have even began to wear gloves.
The leaves, however, are still a little late to the party. Confused by the high temperatures we've been experiencing, only recently have they began to change color. In fact, their shade matches that of the burnt orange rooftops and accents of the white houses I pass by each day. Matched against the clear blue sky, it's almost postcard worthy. Below me, fallen leaves flood the cobblestone streets. It won't be long until the limbs are bare, with nothing left to display.
And while the temperature outside has only begun to appear like winter, most of us have been suffering from the cold temperatures within the house for weeks. Every night at dinner, both my host mom and I are wearing at least two layers. Sometimes I'll even wear my winter coat and scarf to the dinner table - not even kidding. Granted, this is mostly for my lack of clothing to layer, but seriously, that's how cold it feels inside the house.
According to a local, most of these houses were constructed of concrete. So, they were constructed fast and they were constructed cheap. Because of this, there was little consideration for insulation and central heating. Therefore, the majority of houses here in Portugal do not have central heat. Brrrr.
Looking at this issue on a bigger scale, Portugal is one of the most expensive countries within the European Union when it comes to energy prices. Perhaps, this is part of the reason why Portuguese people decided to opt out of central heating when the time came to construct their homes.
On the bright side, there is almost always a space heater available. Obviously, they still require the use of energy, so I'm not quite sure which is worse in the long run, but it's good to know you won't freeze to death. So, if you plan on volunteering to teach abroad in Portugal in the fall, be sure to bring plenty of layers!!!