Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Across the Boardwalk – Portugal 6

 

 

Thankfully, the winds dropped away over the vast expanse of sand, and gifted us a peaceful

night by the Lagoa de Santo Andre .

The next morning, shoeless, we wandered across the sands, which seemed to landlock the

lagoon, and stretched off in both directions, almost as far as the eye could see. A beautiful,

unspoilt beach.

Incongruously, there was a telephone at the edge of the sand, out in the open, and I chose this idyllic

setting to phone my daughter Hollie in England and wish her a happy birthday. She had been worried

about spending it alone, and I was happy to learn she was home at her mum’s in Wakefield, and

was going to have a “girlie day” with one of her friends.

She’d been to see her “awesome little brother” do a gig a few days previously, and had said she’d cried

when he took the stage. I can’t explain how much I love that my two kids have this empathy, it’s wonderful.

 

Miki took a photo of me phoning Hollie, and we promised to send it to her via email.

 

So, back on the road, and we headed ever Northwards, following the gentle curve of the coast, albeit

a kilometre or so inland, until we came to the village of Comporta. We parked by the village entrance,

denoted, as so often here in Portugal by brightly painted white and blue stone “gateposts”.

We were adjacent to one of the barracos- small tributaries feeding the main river, in this case the main

river being the Rio Sado. The most startling thing about this village was the nesting storks – incredibly

large nests – perched precariously atop anything with altitude, electricity pylons, telegraph poles,

and most commonly, chimney pots.

 

I assume they are a protected species here, but it’s clear that

there is a gentle symbiosis between the birds and the villagers.  As I observed them through the

binoculars, feeding their young, Miki informed me that this very region was the only area in the

whole of Europe where they lived all the year long.

 

This was where I first noticed the speed at which the tide came and went in the barraco.

One minute the boats were floundering in the mud, sad and abandoned, and seemingly, the next time

I looked, they were bobbing gaily upon a rippling silver ribbon of water.

 

Feeling energetic (momentarily) we got the bikes down and went off on a ride. Initially intended to be a

trek up the main road, we hastily doubled back when I realised that IU’d left the motorhome keys in the

lock of the storage compartment door. Duh!  When we had successfully retrieved them, we couldn’t face

cycling the same way again so we headed into the village, and on into the fields. Comporta boasts a

rice museum, and it wasn’t unitl that moment that the penny dropped and I realised that the wetlands

all along this coast are in fact mostly converted into paddy fields. They’re everywhere, and I guess

the rice production here is quite significant.

 

One thing that has struck me about Portugal is its seeming lack of poverty. The people seem to be

engaged in hard, sometimes backbreaking work, either fishing or farming, but the houses in the

main seem well-kept and the people purposeful and happy.

 

We turned inwards, to the East, and followed the Rio Sado upstream, making for Alcacer do Sal,

but made a brief stop on the way, and found a hidden jewel. Carrasqueira, a modest little fishing village.

Driving through it past the barranco, to the Rio Sado itself, it looked a clean and tidy, if unremarkable

place. But as we emerged onto the rough track at the side of the levee that ensured the waters into

the rice fields were under control, we spied the most amazing sight; A network of ingeniously constructed

boardwalks, criss-crossing out across the glistening water on stilts. For perhaps half a kilometre this

little wooden community oicked its way out into the Estuary, casting incredibel shadows in the golden

evening light. The water, sparkling like diamonds between the nets and boats bobbing at their moorings.

 

We stepped out onto the boardwalk, and entered another world, a world where little has changed in

hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. Families, sat in boats chatting and mending nets. Weathered,

purposeful faces, set with determination, pacing down the myriad of wakways to their particular cabin

with supplies for the next fishing expedition. This way of life, beautiful in its simplicity, the sea and the

community, inextricably linked.  It was impossible to take a bad photograph here.

 

 

Kev Moore

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June 14, 2008 - Posted by | Art, life, travel, writing | , , ,

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