DRAFT – VERY DRAFT!
Portugal 2018 The ALGARVE
We left our little community. Biding farewell to the Germans and the Dutch neighbours, giving out what remained of our strawberries. Out passed the Professor or so many languages. The Che Guevara van, the Dutch dog breeder, out Passed the young fit runners.
The rest after the storm. An argument.
At Faro we parked after some small difficulty. (moved from a Police bay!)
B is clear, he has to eat. And when B has to eat, he has to eat. I say to B:
“I’ll find you a place to eat.’
With the help of a young girl selling ticket to the islands, I find a perfect restaurant for B in the old city.
Return to van, B not there and all locked. I call.
‘I found a place to eat. I don’t need you to find me a place to eat. I told ye.’
‘Why not call?’
‘What’s the point – you’re off on your own as usual…’
My argument was you are not quite honest. As common with our arguments, B retaliates with an itineracy of my faults, from being stupid with money, to teacher voice, etc etc. So i must have hit a nerve, I say, probably annoyingly.
‘I’ve had enough. Drop me of at Lisbon’, B concludes.
So it was we arrived in Tavira.
We are here thanks to the prompting of Bill Jackson and Meg – although Barry does not heed this.
(I don’t listen to anyone – i find my own way)
As we park I see an Indian Tuk Tuk taking some tourists around. It stops outside a door, and when putted off I go to see what it was that attracted. A pair of hands as door knockers. Ah an old Moorish legacy. (Re-built in the 13th century after the town was recaptured from the Moors) I never got to see the 7 Knights killed by the Moors in Santa Maria do Castelo Church. It was closed by the time I got there. Well we never set off until way passed mid day.
Leaving B at a cafe beside the Gilao river – he can walk no further, Sciatica kicks in – I walk with dogs river side. The town is on both sides of the Gilao river (which reaches the sea through the inlets and lagoons of the Ria Formosa National Park), although the old historically important buildings are on the west side. I climb the steep stone steps of the castle to see the panorama of siena tiled roofs covering white washed homes, and across to the flat lands of lagoons. But I spend time on the east side up and down narrow streets, one full of bars and restaurants, and I wonder if I can tempt Barry to one. From shop selling local postcards I buy one for Les.
‘Do you want a stamp too’, the older man asks in perfect English
‘For Europe?’ he follows.
‘Yes, we in England are just about still in Europe,’ I say with some amused exasperation.
The man smiles, takes his time, and ponders his response as he wraps up a mug I’ve also bought.
‘Russia is also in Europe for stamps’, he returns.
The dogs and I walk over both of the 2 old bridges, both pedestrianised, one with melting tarmac the other an old stone bridge, Pont Antiga Sobre O Rio Galao (most likely Moorish bridge updated 1600’s ) with various vantage points and along it a man playing a mouth harmonica, which invited us to dally. So love music. I see my first Tomi – a huge photo making machine –
According to the DailyTelegraph, this is Algarves prettiest town
Old cars, short people. Windows, doorways, with classical portico decoration, tiled face, peeling paint, as if the time is spent talking in bars rather thank in B&Q and renovation with F&B.
I return to B, at his cafe, where a group of English have settled. They mimic Barry and I telling the dogs to ‘goDOWN’, so i ask them if they are staying round here.
‘We live here’ is the response.
They’ve been here 15 years. Arriving when there were still donkey’s on the streets. And are very happy here still, going back to the UK less and less.
‘It’s not the sun, I couldn’t give a jot for that. No it’s the light. And way of life here.’ Her words resound with me, and I begin to contemplate the idea of living out here. On one level it makes so much sense. The Mediterranean garden, fruit and veg, the access to all of Europe – oh i’ll just pop over to Seville for the day is just not the same as Norwich or or Birmingham.
On Brexit they said: Oh they won’t effect us. The British made the Algarve (!). They’ll probably take away our medical care – but I’ve got a private insurance, and anyhow we’ll just have to pay for it. But that’s all
Barry did get over to the bridge and to the bar. But not this time. This time we cut out to find a camping place 10 minutes outside in Cabanas. Campismo ria Rormosa, Cabanas is a 350 site mixed static with passing campers, many as B gleefully observed, with add ons
‘There are 3 Smarts here. Unbelievable’
While I note the rosemary, and walk to town. It’s a one street town, the sea front street, full of bars. Barry can only just make the nearest and we have a pretty medicore meal but with a 17% wine that Barry rates. ‘Gotta get some of that’.
Hanging Loose Sunday
I’ve surrendered to Barry’s mornings.
Walked the dogs over to the lagoon, trying to get back to Tavira. Logged on, sorted a few emails (notice to Fiona, email to Julia, MJ and Air bnb cracking on, Mr Freeburn’s horrendous email and challenge to Jo Mandal re land boundaries at HHP)
We left camp at near to 2 than not.
‘Let’s eat octopus’ . I’d found a village that was famous for it’s octopus. Saint Luzia, just down the road from Tavira. A success. We encountered Petro, born in Paris but of Portuguese descent. ‘Simple name, simple person’ he introduced his name.
‘Come in, have a look at the photographs, I will clear the table and yes, you can have a beer, and what would the lady like?’
We drank red wine, ate deliciously cooked octopus in garlic and coriander, and I grilled prawns (my 2nd in 24 hours) .
I have two questions for you, I said to Pedro on leaving. The second was how did he rock up here? His father wanted to return the family to Portugal before they lost their Portuguese culture, and this place was a run down taverna owned by the family. Pedro took it on 25 years ago.
‘You were interested in food?
We had our coffee outside, with a delicious fig cake that we both liked – unbelievable.
The first question was where was the unusual graveyard I had heard about. Just a bit further up the road as it happens.
Across the river to the island (no dogs please, conservation), is a resting place for ships anchors.
Graveyard of Anchors
They have no names of course,
No great ship names, ships it anchored, made safe
in harbours or away from rocks.
Those lives kept safe and secure
the metaphore of secure
stable, safe, on shirts
insurance brokers, even banks (!)
No name or mark of the monger
who fashioned the iron, soldered the fins
so like those of fish tales that cut into the sea bed
Now still in sand, but dry sand, going deeper and deeper
as the wind inevitabely will cover
Looking out to the atlantic sea, at rest now, un moving.
Returning to the earth from whence they first came.
A fitting resting place. A contemplation.
Sunday night camp was at Tavira – so I got to return. Thank you Bill Jackson and Meg. Barry relaxed enough after Luzia to open his mind to a spot of wild camping in a car park, where I’d spotted a spontaneous collection of campers. Just adjacent to the salt pans.
In the morning I found a fab B&B but Barry wants a beach so we leave, and I say I will return here.
Supping on red wine and cheese (no TV, no music – tough for B) we marked the map of our journey.
Morning walk past the fishing tackle under the motor way bridge, into the town. Back and found the Market on our door step, where we bought smoked Tuna, oranges, honey from orange blossom bees, and goats cheese of course.
So different from how I imaged it from the German campers. It’s not a quaint Portuguese town, but a quaint tourist town. Could not find parking so Camper Conect to rescue and so it was we rocked up here, in an idyllic camping, occupying a whole hill side, each with our own generous patch, tree surrounded. Oh how I wish I had a camping site! Salema Eco Camping.