"Turning your dreams into reality" is the title of the homepage of the Residential mobile home and holiday park "Calico Park" near Vila Nova de Cacela in the Portuguese Algarve. When we approached the park with the motorhome for the first time almost a year ago, we would not have dared to dream about the change in the meaning of this title for us.
Around eleven months ago, we were only thrilled by this camping park, which is understandably well explained on worldwideontour.de: Enchanting Algarve: Portugal with consequences.
The enthusiasm for people, the landscape, the way of life and the camping park made somehow emotional somersaults, eventually led to the purchase of a really good Pemberton mobile home in Great Britain (with the Brexit clause!) And the rental of a nice mobile home parking space in Calico Park. Because we want to spend the winter there in the future and eventually retire. But in the meantime, this wonderfully sounding homepage title has taken on a completely new meaning, although this also applies to many other park residents. It basically means a lot of trouble, as it quickly turned out.
We had all done the math without the landlord, or rather, without the park owner Salvador Correa de Sa, a Lisbon businessman who seems to have messed up something with the rules of the honorable businessman.
Our plan took a surprising turn with the departure of the sales manager in the middle of last summer, who otherwise looked after the residents on site in the park, made purchases and organization, and looked extremely reliable, although this should also be assessed differently in the light of the times. From the time of his departure, not only was the otherwise good connection to the park, but also that to the British dealer, Caravans in the sun in Stoke-on-Trent, practically broken.
If you order a pack of disposable razors nowadays, you will be informed about their current location online every hour by parcel tracking, but this is completely different with a British mobile home. For months you don't know how, what, when and where? And that's exactly how it was, hardly to no replies to e-mails from the park and retailers, no written delivery confirmations or whatever. The form of accounting was also tricky, but it was only when it affected other customers that it really caught on.
Without further information or confirmation of the originally planned delivery and set-up date for the Pemberton Rivington, I set out for the motorhome to Portugal in mid-August, arriving there in the evening of August 27, which met with astonishment at the reception because there were obviously no further or detailed thoughts about delivery and assembly there.
This presumption was also underlined by the condition of the planned property, which was happily used as a parking space for other mobile homes and had no structural preparations for the Bela Cabana. Even if it had nothing to do with their own intentions to build, but the entire former western camping area of the park had been closed in the meantime, was and is no longer completely available and that in the long run.
There was further astonishment, because mobile home plots, so-called plots, were just before, even to this day (Link), touted as available parking spaces for new mobile homes online. Distrust grew.
On the day after the arrival, a serious word was finally spoken in the reception, which nevertheless gave the result that the delivery of the Bela Cabana had been postponed for whatever reason and therefore that nothing had yet been done on the property , At the moment it is all "muito dificil".
Perplexed in the Algarve
However, I found that too and wondered how I could bring all of this to the best of my life, who was supposed to float in by plane two days later and had planned her vacation exactly to accommodate the Bela Cabana. The only positive thing about the situation was that we were not alone in this misery, but that our future Swedish park neighbors were in exactly the same situation. However, with the difference that they had given up their apartment in Sweden completely, now practically lived on four wheels and that in the uncertain where their future home had gone.
Let's make it short: We spent more than four weeks in the park, caught between optimism and hopelessness, but in the end, the two Pemberton mobile homes ordered - delivered by heavy goods vehicles by subcontractors at weekly intervals - were in front of the park.
Let's put it this way:Caravans in the sun“Based on this experience, I would not rent a used bike even in good weather, and I have not even considered the annoyance of almost a dozen defects and damage to the Bela Cabana that have not yet been repaired. However, I will actively deal with this problem these days.
Defect report of the community
But it gets better. In the meantime we have been made aware that the park no longer has an operating license due to various deficiencies in terms of infrastructure, lighting, fire protection and improper use of agricultural and nature conservation areas. And apparently not for decades.
The last formal review by the municipality in May 2019 confirmed these shortcomings in the final public report once again; the park owner had previously done little to nothing to remedy the shortcomings. Speaking of which, eight mobile homes in the park - fortunately ours are not - are anyway on illegal land because of the agricultural area.
Presumably, he previously had the approval process of two EU funding projects to improve the infrastructure of the Calico Park, it is about 500.000 euros of non-repayable money from EU taxpayers (Link), from the fulfillment of its contractual obligations towards the residents and campers in the park - because this certainly includes a valid operating license - from this.
No operating license, but EU funding
Remarkable: Despite the contradiction of the supervisory community, both funding projects were approved, which after the completion of the first one according to EU funding decision ALG-02-0853-FEDER-033689 on December 31, 2019 now raises the question of where only the taxpayer might have left coal, Because apart from a few dug trenches - the continued construction of which was prohibited by the municipality during an inspection on December 10, 2019 - nothing has been invested in the infrastructure on the site for tens of years.
The construction freeze was imposed, by the way, because it is known that the "construction area" is supposed to be a compensation area that does not allow any infrastructure measures.
Regardless of these admittedly fundamental considerations, we, too, fell into the less benevolent eye of placeholder Salvador Correa de Sa - who conducts his two-place camping empire through the companies Transcampo and Transcampo II in Lisbon - and in the Calico Park on site as park manager commanded.
Plot 36 for the Bela Cabana
We had already talked to the last sales manager who had been lost in the summer about expanding our property because we had found that its layout for the chosen mobile home was a bit slim: "No problem, this is a decision for life and it is enough Space available, “is roughly the answer in spring 2019.
Already on the first day after arrival there was an opportunity to discuss this topic with place owner Salvador Correa de Sa, despite all the information problems related to delivery and installation. The habit of a Hanseatic merchant immediately conveyed trust, no problem is all that, I like to measure everything together with foreman Goucha, a very nice and energetic Georgian, mark the cornerstones of the Bela Cabana, he would then take a look at it.
So it happened, everything was ok, the "Hanseatic merchant" nodded the new cut and the set-up markings twice, in the end it all became 62 square meters more expensive, no problem. On the contrary, the site owner even suggested that the property be rounded up a little bit more free of charge and that in the south, in front of the neighboring property, a small public garden should finally be created. So far so good. The annual rent was increased accordingly, billed and transferred immediately.
However, the crane lowered the Bela Cabana to the erection markings days later, the workers in the camping park actively took care of the installation, supply and disposal lines had been laid beforehand, concrete foundations had been poured, everything took its course, a few days later was the hut installed, in addition - it reminded me of Annie Proulx's Ship Announcements - even chained to the foundations.
"A minor problem"
A few days later, Salvador Correa de Sa appeared on the scene and pointed out to me a "minor problem", which was: "I was wrong, actually there are three parking spaces, and as you stand now, I can't have a third mobile home put up more. ”(Note: The plan only provides two mobile homes in this area.)
There are two options that would be there: Constricting Bela Cabana (note: obvious nonsense) or the “third plot” (note: actually a public path and part of the “plot” is a slope, therefore it is the comparison of renting a coastal property at low tide is certainly permissible), which would mean an additional monthly charge of around 230 euros.
Admittedly, if we could do without meat in the future, that would be fine, only that we don't like to be screwed, the more we had to take note that similar numbers had already run in the neighborhood. So we refused, of course.
This cognitive dissonance came to a provisional end in mid-December, at least with the statement by the place owner: "Then you won't get a contract and you can't build a terrace." it may go on. However, we are reasonably optimistic, because given the overall situation in Calico Park, this is likely to be the smallest problem, all the more so when the European Union wants to know where the taxpayers' fine money has gone from the one that is still missing Not to mention the park's operating license. And enforcing the required rent increase for long-term caravan campers from, for example, 1.400 euros per year to more than 12.000 euros from January 2020 is likely to pose an additional challenge for park management.
However, in the short term the gentleman has now announced his retirement from the management at the end of 2019 and is in Lisbon as a "supervisory board". He may just need more time for the EU, the operating license, the enforcement of the incredible rent increase or just for the approval of our terrace. Let's see what the new park management can do. We are already very excited. If you want to stay up to date, you can keep yourself informed on the SalvadorsParadise blog: Link
In order not to let the story end here negatively: The team in Calico Park on site, whether in the reception, restaurant or handcrafted on the square, is really good and extremely friendly. Nice people. There are also there.