It is a very different feeling to visit the land and the houses on it, now that we know it is ours. We go there to get to know the land more deeply, say hi to the trees and animals – we see deer each time we come there – and gradually we are meeting our neighbors too!
We started to do some initial clearing of the rooms in the houses. We were sitting on the steps of the lower house, having a break from cleaning, looking at the field stretching out in front of us and at the trees that surround it, and the realization came to us at the same time: all this is ours! Unbelievable and still letting it in…
Meeting our neighbors – one
There are some parcels that are not connected to the main area, we call them our exclaves. From the map it is not clear where they actually are, so we want to discover them. When we went to look for the first one, we sort of lost our way and came upon a fairy-tale house, standing on its own, with a vegetable garden and a solar panel next to it. The door was open, we heard a radio, and so we called out. Since no one answered, we assumed they must be busy and were getting ready to move on. Just then a man and a woman appeared down the slope, and a dog came running up to us, barking loudly. We introduced ourselves and were invited to come over sometime for a coffee, or maybe lunch.
Meeting our neighbors – two
While we were cleaning the balcony, a tractor came up the dirt road and stopped close to the house. We had arranged to meet the person who lets his cows graze on the land, and he turned out to be our second neighbor. Of course he wanted to know what our plans were. When we told that we want to renovate the two houses, one for ourselves and one to receive our friends, he commented: ‘Avete buone idee’ (you have great ideas). The people here are down-to-earth, they will believe when they see. It’s a good reminder to stay with our feet on the ground and go step by step.
Meeting our neighbors – three
Meeting the third neighbor involves some exposure. You see, we did not want to risk scratching the bottom of our standard car on the uneven and eroded access road to the houses. So I parked more down and we carried up cleaning supplies and simple cooking utensils. It’s good exercise! As evening fell, we got ready to leave. When I tried to turn the car, it got stuck between a rock and a pile of firewood. Any effort to free it made the wheels dig in deeper. It was clear that we needed help. We heard a tractor nearby and decided to follow the sound. We came to the land of our third neighbor ‘through the backdoor’, so we apologized when we saw him. When we explained our predicament, he was ready to help. He put a steel cable in a cart and came round the bend of the road with his tractor, while we navigated some slippery stones while crossing the river that borders the land on one side.
Tractors have powerful engines: it took a little pulling and the car was free. We thanked our neighbor profusely – such a friendly and helpful person – and we learned that it’s good to have neighbors with a tractor. We are now looking into 4-wheel vehicles, as well as researching methods of road improvement. We’ll keep you posted.
We have the keys now!