I actually had a full night in my bunk last night, no watches or anything. Bliss.
We have finally made it. After about a thousand miles and eight and half days we have arrived. We hoisted anchor early this morning and moved up the river towards the town of Portimao where we dropped anchor again.
Mike went ashore with all the paperwork to clear customs and immigration and to ask the harbourmaster where we should anchor for the next couple of weeks, That should be fun for him as he speaks no Portuguese and we haven't a phrase book between us.
When he gets back hopefully we can move closer to town, then we can go ashore and have baths and stretch our legs. If we can change some money for Escudo we might even buy a beer or two
Since I travelled to Portimao it has become a favourite haunt of holiday makers. The fishing fleets are largely gone replaced by pleasure craft. The town is now mainly bars, restaurants and hotels aimed at the tourist market.
Still, it is a safe secure anchorage where we can sleep at night without interruption.
Portimao is a working fishing town on the Rio Arade on the south coast of Portugal. Most of the boats in the harbour here are fishing boats of all shapes and sizes, though there are a few pleasure craft.
The main place to eat by the harbour looks a bit rough and ready, I think it is there for the fishermen. I am sure we will try it more than once as we expect to be here for a couple of weeks.
The town itself seems to have everything we might need. We hear there are riots in Lisbon though we donít know why. It is a long way from here and we can't see any signs of unrest in Portimao.
We have discovered that Portuguese is close enough to Spanish so that between us we can make ourselves understood. Mike speaks Spanish well, the rest of us have a few words each ñ me from my trusty ëTeach Yourself Spanish book.
Just out of interest the reason we headed for Portimao. Mike stopped here on his motorbike tour of Europe and liked the place. As good a reason as any.
Most of the tables and benches are in the open, only a few under an open-sided shelter.
The main food on offer is sardines. Fresh from the fishing fleet and cooked on an open grill, served with good bread and a local red wine. All very cheap and very popular with the fishermen.
It doesn't get much more straightforward, or much better.
I think it will become a regular haunt.
So we are just doing boat cleaning and repairs, plus a little bit of exploring the town and an occasional meal or beer ashore.
Anthony and I are planning a trip away from the boat in a few days time.
Not much else to report until then.
Andy and I were sitting in our now favourite cafe watching the world go by. A fisherman in an open boat was unloading his catch onto the quay.
He was unloading from the stern. Standing on the front seat was a bucket with a lid on. The lid lifted very slightly and then fell shut again. It lifted and fell shut a second time. It lifted a third time and then slid off and landed inside the boat. The fisherman, talking loudly with his helpers, did not notice.
A tentacle appeared, followed by another, and another, then an octopus. It flopped out of the bucket on to the seat on which the bucket stood. Finally, one of the men on the quay noticed the octopus and yelled to the fisherman.
The fisherman turned and dived towards the octopus. The octopus dived towards the water.
The men helping unload. The watchers in the cafe. The passers-by on the quay. All, except the fisherman, laughed out loud because for today at least, one octopus got away.
We are thinking of setting sail from Portimao in about 5 days, heading either for Madeira or the Canary Islands. If we are going to have a trip away from the boat it had better be soon.
Anthony and I are the only ones interested. We have decided we will make our way up into the hills above Portimao tomorrow, then aim to hike cross-country the day after, and back to the boat the day after that.
I don't have a rucksack but Mike has said I can borrow his. We dug that out of the port float with some difficulty. The floats are treated like junk rooms in a house, full of things that might be useful one day. I have a sleeping bag but no groundsheet. I went ashore and bought a large sheet of polythene to use instead.
Anthony of course has all the kit he needs.
So, we will pack in the morning then head off about lunch time.
Anthony and I were dropped ashore at midday, all packed and ready to go. We decided on a quick lunch of sardines, bread & wine at the waterfront cafe before we left.
2 o'clock, decided we had better leave.
We started walking and hitching into the hills when a bus came along heading in the right direction. As it was getting late we took that instead and got off on the outskirts of a town called Monchique.
Darkness started to fall as we walked into the centre of town, and the temperature dropped. I undid my rucksack to get out my anorak while we discussed where to sleep.
While I was fiddling with my bag the town postman walked up. I think he may have thought that we were intending to sleep the night there, in the street, so he offered us the floor in his front room, which we accepted. That sounds like a conversation happened, but as we speak little Portuguese and he speaks little English it was a more basic exchange than that.
He took us to a house where we could get a good meal with wine costing only 25 escudor, the cheapest we had had until then was 50. It wasn't a restaurant, more an informal arrangement with an acquaintance of his.
Back in his house we spread our sleeping bags on the floor of his front room.
We have a chamber pot in case of nighttime need
Time to sleep.
We thanked the postman as best we could and thumbed a lift to Marmalete. From there we started on the main point of our exercise, a cross country walk through the mountains where there are no made roads, only tracks used by donkeys and the occasional motor-cyclist.
Everything was a beautiful green and the smells made you want to savour every breathe you took. We walked and talked companionably about our lives. Anthony talking about having to learn to ride and fight on a horse because he was in the cavalry, even though the real cavalry weapon was a tank. He also talked about his time in the Phillipines and how he met and became friends with Mike.
Anthony had a map and compass. I had neither. Not a problem when we were together, but unfortunately we got separated. I carried on walking in what I hoped was a straight line, but with no roads or people and each olive tree looking the same as all the others I had no real way of checking. Occasionally I would call For Anthony but got no answer. Lost and with no obvious way of getting unlost I sat down to consider what to do.
I was not worried. There was no danger and sitting in the countryside listening to natural sounds around me was very calming. While I was listening to the world I heard my name being called by Anthony. I replied and within a few minutes we were together and back on our way.
At about 8 pm we hit the road between a village called Odeaxere and a town called Barragem Da Beavura. We headed towards Odeaxere arriving there at about 9:30pm.
According to the map we had covered about 25km all on foot and in very hilly country so it was probably a lot further.
Unfortunately there was nowhere to stay in Odeaxere so we walked about a mile out of town where we spread our groundsheets and polythene sheets in a field and settled down to sleep.
Tessa - Sleeping on an absolute strangers floor, getting lost in the forest and sleeping rough in the middle of nowhere - nice to know you were travelling safely dad! What would you say if I have done all this!!! Me - What can I say, I was young! I’m afraid there might be worse to come. At least I never threw myself off a bridge attached to an elastic band like some people I could name
A little tip. Don't use polythene sheet as a groundsheet. Every time you move it makes a horrible noise that keeps you and anyone nearby awake. Anthony was not impressed.
Our walk in the hills was finished so we got a bus back into Portimao and walked down to the harbour to wait for someone to come ashore and take us back to Maya.
After a little while we saw Mike coming towards us in the inflatable, so we got ready to embark. A passing policeman had other ideas.
We had heard there were riots in Lisbon, so I suppose the police were being extra careful. The sight of two foreigners with rucksacks, one in an army camouflage jacket, was too much and apparently required investigation. He told us in fast and fluent Portuguese what he wanted of us. We smiled sweetly and did nothing because we had no idea what he wanted. This made him talk faster and louder, which didn't really help. What did help was a very nice English lady who translated for us. He wanted to check our bags and needed us to 'accompany him to the station' so he could do it thoroughly. We had nothing to hide so we went along with him.
We had to empty everything on the floor of the police station and he examined it all, including the empty bags. He also searched us, then reluctantly waved us away. We repacked and headed back to the harbour. Mike seemed to think the whole thing was quite funny. It didn't happen to him.
The lady who had helped ran a small hotel nearby and she had very kindly told Mike we could all pop in and use the showers it we liked. Back to the boat, collected Keith, Andy, and washing gear and gratefully took up her offer.
Tomorrow we plan to set off for the Canary Islands , so that could be our last opportunity to get really clean for a few days.