A day in the life of a Boer in Madeira


Last night I went to sleep with the fact that my motorbike’s back wheel was a flat as a vuvuzela noise. To find a motorbike mechanic here in Canhas, Madeira is as scarce as a light bulb in a “TIK” house. I know that the service station’s owner can speak English and that his wife is from SA. So I plan to go to him and ask for assistance. I can call the road assistant people who are the equivalent of our AA! The problem is that they charge you a lot of money when you at your house!

I also had an appointment with the plumber for 10h00 as I need to put a cubicle at the bottom shower as we are getting guests while Jose is here and we need the second shower. Yesterday we could only found showers of 1900mm high and it needs to be only 1800 high to fit in under the ceiling It is a suspended ceiling but above it is all the plumbing from the top bathroom exposed. So we will go to Ribeira Brava and if we can’t find anything there we would go into Funchal.

I woke up at around 03h45 with an insistent barking of a dog. A real high pitch and soul destroying bark. I turned around to try and sleep and it carried on and on and on. Eventually I got up and looked out. I blew my vuvuzela and all the dogs in the village exploded in a cacophony worse than sixty Harley Davidson’s together! I noticed that in the yard next door a small Maltese mix running around berserk and barking like mad. There are high walls on three sides of the property and the fourth side had low drop from the parking area of about a meter high. The poor dog must have chased a cat or something and jumped into the walled in area and he could not get out!

Out I went with my shorts and “plakkies”. As I near the dog he starts to growl at me. Oh, shit I don’t want to get rabies in Madeira. I will never be allowed back in! There was a big thick plastic bag and I was going to use that to try and catch him. But alas, here I am running around like a mad man, four o’ clock in the morning trying to get the dog in freshly plowed soil and it is just dust all over. The dog running around in circles with, me was following him and the dust storm all over. In circles we ran and he kept ahead of me by far. Then I just tasted dust as I fell flat on my face! I just lie there and started to laugh. Dust swirling around me like priest’s uses incense.

A day in the life of a Boer in Madeira

F@#$%^G DOG OWNERS!!!!!! I saw some planks and started to build a ramp for the poor thing to be able to get out. I finished the ramp and started to climb up the wall and the next minute a little black thing past me faster than Caster Semenya could ever run. He turned around and softly barked at me and started to run home, where ever that is.

I had to come and shower at 04h30!

I naturally was awake and could not sleep. Eventually I slept and woke up with a start just after 08h00. I just washed my face and had my coffee, looked at my internet and the doorbell went. It was the plumber, he was early and it is very unusual for Madeira trades men to be early. It was fun going with a plumber that can’t speak English to all these hardware and plumbing places trying to find a shower cubicle. At the third shop the owner phoned the manufacturers even in Lisbon. No, the lowest one you get is an 1850mm shower cubicle. No matter what we do it will not fit! Very disappointed we turn home and then I try to explain with the help of a dictionary and Google translate that we should try to hang a rod and a shower curtain.

“Sim sim Senhor” he said with a smile and off we go to our local hardware plumbing shop. There we found a square frame for a half round shower. LOL Well, better than nothing! He is busy installing it. I did not have a choice for the curtain as it was part and parcel of the frame. It is white with gory yellow Arum lilies.

We then went to the garage to speak to the owner and he sends his mechanic to come and look at the bike and see if they can help. So I was followed by this youngster home. He also cannot speak English so it was another lesson in Portuguese. He struggled but eventually had the wheel in his car. “Amanha Amanha”.

They are busy renovating next door and as we passed the cement mixer half in the road, the dumb witted slow in motion and stupid @#$%^&* fool tilt the mixer too far to the road side and it was running at high speed. Cement went flying! It was all over the bonnet, the roof and the side of the car. It must have been a wheel barrow load of cement. I could still live with that, but wait for it, my side window was open! So this “pap en slap” watery cement hit me like a cow with a runny tummy. It came through the window and all over me, my sunglasses, my t shirt, my pants and very little elsewhere in the interior. I used to be friendly with them but this was the pits. As I want to park at my usual place, their pickup was parked in my place.

That was the end. I was not even offered an excuse and I walked up to him and he could see I was furious and I told him in plain Afrikaans:
“Ek sal jou ‘n snot klap gee dat dit ses keer om jou nek draai and dan sal ek jou aan jou voete rondswaai en jou laat los en jy sal die aarde sewe dae lank omsirkel en die agste dag die atmosfeer verlaat”. As I towered over him I released it was actually funny but I refused to laugh! His mates quickly left as I am sure they thought I was going to “donner” him. (For those who saw the Leon Schuster movie and my scene in it will now how cross I can come over although that was acting.)


Oh well I then had to park the car in our parking area with the motorbike and wash my car. It is not easy to wash cement off a car. You actually have to do it three times with a hose pipe and my hose pipe is two meters too short. So I washed the one side and then drive out go and turn around at the end of the street and came back and washed the other side.

I still did not receive any apology from the man, but wait, I think he was “Stomverskrik” or is it “Strontverskrik”?

A day in the life of a Boer in Madeira

Schalk Visser
Photographer / Farmer, Reluctant farmer frustrated architect. Born and bred Afrikaans. Discovered Madeira in 1988 and fell in love with the island. He bought an old house in Canhas near Ponta do Sol. Calls himself the BOEREGEES! He had three photo exhibitions on Madeira in Madeira and the last exhibition is currently in Japan.