Saturday, 3 January 2015

Tavira to Olhao . . .

Sunset is not usually my thing. Sunrise and the hour before is better.

In Olhao, with a glass of red wine, watching the sun that has accompanied me all day, drop below the horizon, without clouds to embellish the picture, is a special spectacle. The Portuguese language flowing behind me, which I absorb without understanding . . . time to focus on learning or re-learning it . . . the people more reserved than the Spanish, yet friendly . . . Ana at the hotel, sparkly and quite impressed when I tell her I am a writer. A role I picked up as I walked into Olhao, with the option to walk on, in pilgrim/walker role, to Faro with its Pousada or Albergue, around €10 with breakfast, or slow down, see Olhao, pay €29, write, watch the sun set . . . relax with the journey . . . across the Algarve in January, up the Alentejo coast before it becomes impossibly hot . . . my own camino . . . maybe taking in Mooji, Tamera, Zambujeira do Mar . . .

Rewinding . . . Silva came back from the Irish bar in Tavira with the promise of a plane ticket to Dublin and work. Plus a few euros. He works the bars effectively, well presented, good English, genuinely looking for work. Maybe content with the €30 a day he can make telling his story. We have eaten together at the hostel, a chance for me to cook the food I want and share it.

After breakfast I set out westwards, thinking maybe Faro, though it is already 9 am and I have resolved to slow down, enjoy the journey. The Algarve administration has a policy of sustainable tourism (which won't include golf courses I suppose), and is developing a cycle route along the coast. Perfect for walking, mostly off-road or on quiet back roads. From Tavira it wends along a nature reserve and the walk is pleasant in the warm sunshine - t-shirt weather for me, though cyclists and slower pedestrians are more wrapped up.

I reflect on yesterday's too brief meeting with Jane and Look, and on Thich Nat Hahn, in a coma, passing . . . I wish him well on his journey . . . a good life doesn't guarantee a peaceful death - J. Krishnamurti and Ajahn Chah suffered a lot; Gandhi went quickly and violently.

I take a rest at Fuseta, recommended by Diana at the hostel. First a photo of a very relaxed dog, lying on his back on a bench in the sun. Then some bread from breakfast with honey and a long chat with a passing stranger.

John is 74, came from a small village near Richmond, Yorkshire; married a Norwegian, lived in the Lofoten Islands in the far North. Now he spends winters in Fuseta, in the camper van he keeps here, summers divided between the Lofoten Islands and fishing even farther north.

Bird watching is his thing here. Migratory birds love to take a break on the mudflats around here.

His first story was about a bloke he met here, who was cycling all round the world, always on the go. It took a divorce and highly stressful business life to put him on two wheels, but John said he was happy cycling and had no plans to stop.

Next I heard some of John's own story. He wrote a book on fly fishing, in Norwegian. Had a business providing the lures and other kit. Took up studies and became a teacher, almost by accident. Now retired, he heads south whilst his wife prefers ski-ing. They divorced but got back together. Their three children providing the incentive.

I head off towards Olhao, a town I fancy looking at, though Faro is nearly two hours further and will take some negotiating.
Arriving in Olhao at 3.30, I leave the question open. I will stay on the Faro road, and if accommodation appears, I will check it out. It does and I do. Not cheap, but I have enough in my pocket, it feels a good time to stop and Faro, with its hostel will do for tomorrow.

Which brings us back to the start.

No comments:

Post a Comment