All Roads Lead to Rome…But Not N14

I started going to the gym again. I’d been dodging it for a variety of excellent reasons, but it was time. After a recent workout, I returned to the cottage–which is built into a hillside–and drove down the steep dirt driveway to the narrow flat of grass where we park our car. There’s a small rise on one side and a sloping drop on the other heading toward the stream and pasture. Re-exiting requires making a series of forward-reverse movements so as not to have to back up the hill.

The cleaning lady’s car was in my spot. I’d come back to get Carson for an outing in Braga, so I put my pup in the Honda, welcoming the challenge of getting out of the driveway with an immovable object in my way. I was sure I could back out, but kept getting just shy of the top, then stalling in the standard shift car we now own. I drove back down the hill and wiggled the vehicle around to drive out front first, but was in danger of slipping over the edge of the sodden earth from recent heavy rains. Eventually I did back up and out, but the angle left me pointed in the wrong direction on the road, and there would be no turnout for some distance.

Instead of heading to Braga, I went back into town–Famalicão–and noticed a sign at a roundabout where I’d taken a wrong turn yesterday. (This happens more often than I like to admit.) It read, “Quintães” (“Keehntainsh”) a name so cute and fun to pronounce, I had to check it out. I paid attention to my surroundings so I could find my way back, and at worst, if I couldn’t retrace my path, I knew the main road, N14, would get me home. I followed winding roads past terracotta tile-capped homes, seeing no people, no cars. But I did know where I was: out in the farmland I overlook from N14 when driving along that route.

I noticed after a while that I was on Rua de Quintães, but found no town, simply homes, and still no people or cars. It was time to get back to civilization. Looking above and to my left I saw a main road in the distance (N14?) with trucks speeding along it. If I could just keep going in that direction, I’d be back on track. Edging slowly up the snaky roads, it seemed at each turn the main drag would pop into view. At the last turn what popped into view was…laundry.

I was in someone’s backyard, a few feet from clotheslines holding pants and tops, towels and sheets, and a brilliant display of unmentionables. On the far end of the yard was a stone wall, to my left was a stone wall, behind me was a stone wall, and I was on an incline of about sixty degrees.

After a surreal moment of profound fear, I pulled the hand break up, got out of the car, and assessed my options. Once back inside, I attempted to maneuver out of my predicament, but was terrified of crunching the car on one end or the other. (Dare I mention stripping the gears?) I thought about looking for someone more experienced in this sort of situation, but I still hadn’t seen a soul. Finally I decided—I am serious—that our Civic would have to be airlifted by helicopter. (Is that even possible?) I blamed my wobbly knees on the morning’s leg presses, got back in the car, whispered a quick prayer, and miraculously got turned around, escaped disaster, and returned my buggy to its home.

What did all this teach me? Exercise can be hazardous to your health.

Have any stories you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them.


About Tricia Pimental

Brooklyn-born Tricia Pimental moved to Portugal in 2012, where she found rural life so idyllic she wrote a piece for the Living the Dream section of International Living Magazine. Today she serves as their Portugal Correspondent. The former actress and Toastmaster has written three award-winning books: Rabbit Trail: How a Former Playboy Bunny Found Her Way, Slippery Slopes, and A Movable Marriage. Other writing credits include two travel books for International Living: The Old-World Charms of Portugal and Escape to Portugal, and a 15-part video series entitled Portugal 101. Tricia has discovered one of the best parts about living in Europe is the ability to sample the culture (especially all that food and beverage) of many countries via road trips. She and her husband Keith—and their intrepid Maltese, Carson—have traveled through Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Denmark, and more, as well as Ireland, Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Balkans. After renting in various regions of the country, Tricia and Keith now own a quinta in central Portugal. She blogs at
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9 Responses to All Roads Lead to Rome…But Not N14

  1. Ks Shopping says:

    This is one of the best. I smiled all the way through it. I love and miss you! OOXXOO

    Sent from my iPad

  2. bpfernley says:

    sounds like you are enjoying your new journey.

  3. Rr says:

    Ohmigosh, how hilarious – now that it is all safely behind you. Whew, I was white-knuckling right along with you. And, yes, I’ve always said that exercise is hazardous to one’s health – irony of ironies.

    So happy to get this recent post because it seems a long time since we’ve had an update.

    Keep ’em coming…

    Love and blessings,

    Lynne Buckie Baker

  4. Pat Darcey says:

    Wow, I understand completely. When we visited Germany our rental was a stick shift and many places we visited were very tricky with a stick shift.

  5. Ninette Bravo says:

    Kurt and I have gotten lost so many times in Europe. But, if I were lost alone, it wouldn’t be the fun it was with him. Thanks for sharing and I am enjoying the ride ❤

  6. Oddly, the male comments perceive that this escapade was enjoyable for me, but the women posts talk about white knuckles and no fun. Quite perceptive, ladies.

  7. Dave Reid says:


  8. Barbara Rockwell says:

    Tricia, I like the very end the best, “whispered a quick prayer, and miraculously got turned around, escaped disaster, and returned my buggy to its home.” Thanks for reinforcing the power of prayer and the faithfulness of God.

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