This morning was at least warm, and my luke warm shower was blessed with a Portuguese singing cleaner who had a surprisingly good voice. Some English had arrived overnight too so we swapped one of the books we’d both read with 4 loo rolls and set off, optimistic of a new country and a change in the weather.
We followed the road South and made good progress until we reached Regua and we turned to follow the Douro river all the way to the coast stupidly thinking it would be a flatter drive. It took us nearly 3 hours to cover 70kms! Zig-zagging up and down mountains past endless fields of vines and olive trees, with every bend in the road featuring it’s own Portuguese widow selling oranges or cherries in her standard black outfit with pinny. Washing hung from lines along the side of the road and stray dogs wandered the streets, all the while the locals would stop what they were doing and either stare, smile, or in the case of the little kids, wave madly as we passed. Lots took photos, others just laughed but when three cars in a row flashed their lights at us, we began to question whether or not something was wrong.. we stopped to look… all looked fine.. we continued… more flashing… we rounded a bend and found people in the road cutting long sticks from the hedges ON THE BEND!! We continued until another bend and more cars flashing ??? eventually we came across some police in a layby pulling cars in – thankfully we drove straight through, the chance of us even reaching the speed limit in this terrain, let alone being caught breaking it would be a minor miracle. The flashing stopped.By 6pm we had reached Porto on the coast, depressingly it was grey, misty and starting to rain again. We found a campsite near the beach at Vila Novo de Gaia, ate and slept, Ant repeating his ‘tadtut’ mantra (There’s another day tomorrow un-touched).
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins