We made it to Portugal despite getting stuck in the Pyrenees, ‘losing’ our pup on the mountain and some cold nights spent in a very different kind of hostel. We were so ready for our Airbnb home in the mountains of southern Portugal, which we had reserved for six weeks. It would be a place to get back into routines, learn, write and spend a lot of time in nature.
And that’s the way it started, but after a couple of beautiful days of playing in the backyard overlooking the valley and hiking on the mountain, we realized it wasn’t meant to be. Just days into those six weeks, our poor dog came into contact with a processionary caterpillar. I had never before heard of these deadly little creatures, but I certainly know a lot about them now! They look a bit like those cute little furry caterpillars you see in your yard every spring, but these guys march in procession, one behind the other. And they are extremely poisonous to pets and children. Coming into contact with even just one of their hairs is often deadly for a dog.
Our pup was outside foaming at the mouth when the girls found her. After being rushed to the vet, she was put on a drip for the day and given medication for the next 10 days. Even after we brought her home and she’d been thoroughly treated, I woke up with blisters on my arm just from having touched her face. Thankfully she has fully recovered. Our new favorite vet in the world told us we were incredibly lucky, as most dogs that come in contact with these caterpillars either die or they lose their tongues. So we had to leave our beautiful Airbnb home and move far away from the caterpillars. After several nights in a hotel searching for another long-term place to stay, we found another house – this time near Lisbon. We love our new area just a couple blocks from the ocean and are so thankful to be here, all safe and all together.
Besides learning all about processionary caterpillars, who by the way are only dangerous from January – March, after which time they burrow into the ground to come out in the summer as harmless moths, the experience reminded me of the importance of being flexible and open to change when our plans don’t go the way we think. (That seems to happen a lot these days.) And I was again amazed by the incredible kindness shown to us by so many people – from the vet who called in her entire staff to help us during their lunch break to the woman at the hotel who went out of her way to help us find everything we needed to some wonderful strangers on the Worldschooling Facebook page who contacted friends trying to find us a place to stay .
When we arrived here in our new town outside of Sintra, the hosts had an incredible basket of food and wine waiting for us. That night the man at the market down the street went upstairs to his home to find his own personal firewood because he was out of it in the store, just so we could have a fire that first night. Time and time again I am reminded of the goodness of others. It has been one of the greatest blessings on this trip – seeing so much kindness from others, remembering how good people can be and how much we really do need one another.
For those of you who subscribe to our stories, I’m excited about one of our newest stories about Portugal. In the story, the main character Eva does an act of kindness that starts a domino effect of good deeds. I truly believe in the impact kindness can have on others. It’s so important to us to have characters in our stories who are good, kind, honest and generous.
Thank you so much to all of our wonderful subscribers who support our small business of telling stories about the beauty of different cultures and the goodness of people. Sharing our stories with kids around the world is such a joy. We’d love to send you a postcard saying hello if you drop us a line this month with your address to our email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Matt Tonia and the girls
I love to read the stories of all your adventures but this last one was one of my favorites next to Tonia spinning around screaming with a monkey on her head in Gibraltar.
Your stories of kindness and generosity leave us inspired and energized that the world is a much better place than the news would lead us to believe. The girl’s resilience, positive attitude, and all the girls have learned, seems to be your reward for striving to see all the good, kindness, and value in people and the world around you. What a great lesson for all of us about perspective and attitude. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much Dan. Your words mean a lot. It really has been incredible all the kindness we’ve encountered on this trip. It’s been an amazing gift.
Welcome to Portugal. We just moved here ourselves a few months ago (in Porto) and we love it! And yes, the people here are very kind.
If you are passing through Porto by any chance, and you are in a mood of meeting another homeschooling family, I’d love to welcome you to our home.
Thank you so much Sofia! We’re hoping to come to Porto for a few days but just not yet sure when. I’ve heard wonderful things about it. I’ll let you know if we make it there!