29/11/10 Exploring with Colin

On Saturday our son Colin arrives out to see us for a few days, coinciding with our rental of a very posh apartment. It’s a good price for five weeks and the weather seems to have broken – cold and very wet, reflecting perhaps the snow that is falling in the UK. A cleaner called Nely shows us around. She is very pleasant but we have no way of communicating, as she has no English or French and our Portuguese words can be counted on the fingers of one hand… The long and the short of it is that we agree to take the apartment: what luxury! What is this warm stuff coming out of the taps? And space…I can stretch my arms up over my head without bashing them on the ceiling…there’s a fridge and a washing machine, and even a machine for putting dishes in and getting them clean…what curiosities!

We tell the man at the campsite gate that we have rented an apartment. It seems he knows already – he’s been talking to the cleaner!

Today we go exploring with Colin in his hire car. We head along the coast to Vila Real de Santo António. It’s a pretty town on the border between Portugal and Spain at the mouth of the River Guadiana. The Guadiana became the dividing line between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Kingdom of Castile in 1267 after the Treaty of Badajoz. Apparently most of the original town was destroyed by a tidal wave in 1755.

This dude is one Sebastiāo José de Carvalho e Mello,  Marquês de Pombal, who was responsible for the design of the new town.

On a more prosaic note, Terry tries to feed a cow…

And we bump into a rather pale lady…

Then there’s this lout with his camera…

 After coffee, we head north up into the hills and branch off to Alcoutim which is another border town on the Rio Guadiana, and another place full of history. It seems that the Portuguese in this part of the world spent a good deal of time avoiding paying heavy taxes. Thus, Alcoutim thrived as a smuggling port, notably bringing in slaves, tobacco and sugar, amongst other “products”…

There was always somebody trying to lay down the law though…

Across the river lies Sanlúcar… which you can visit on a little boat for a euro…

On this side of the river though, there are the remains of a castle to see…the Moors built the walls…

and there are some rather interesting azulejos on the village walls…

We try out the local Coziedo de Grão – a chickpea stew with bright chunks of sweet potato – which was tasty apart from the large lumps of fatty meat in it. The cook came out of the kitchen to ask us if it was “bom” (good).

“Muito bom,” (Very good) I say, though I have to confess to a slight insincerity – she is so proud of her food, I don’t want to hurt her feelings.

Then it’s back on the road, through deserted villages and hectare upon hectare of hillside… beautiful even below the darkening sky…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.