Thursday, 12 July 2007
Carry on up the Rio
Definitely the most relaxing part of the journey so far. I can’t believe we almost passed this by. Caught up in the drive to get west and north towards home, we very nearly pressed on to Faro, without taking the time to amble upriver on the Guadiana. Fortunately, the madness passed and we only needed to travel a few miles before it was clear that the pilot book wasn’t exaggerating – this is truly a spot not to be missed.
The surrounding country is semi-arid and hilly, the banks fringed with willows and bamboo and the birdlife is numerous and interesting. Azure-winged magpies (!), listed as a rare bird, are plentiful here. We’ve also seen golden orioles, kingfishers, plenty of storks and long-tailed tits.
Yesterday, we forged upriver to a very lonely spot just a couple of miles short of Pomarao, where the R. Vascao joins the Guadiana and spent an extremely peaceful afternoon, evening and night there. The sensation of remoteness was heightened by the discovery that there was no mobile phone reception – this in a world where reception is strong even on the Aonnach Eagach ridge in the West Highlands.
A dinghy expedition into the waters of the Vascao was rewarded by sightings of several of the above-mentioned birds, plus some very shy and wary turtles that slid off their mudbanks into the water at the first sign of our approach.
This morning, we took advantage of the last hour of ebb tide to come a few miles back downriver to the opposing towns of Alcoutim (Portugal) and Sanlucar (Spain), where we are anchored just a little upstream and between the two. Both very picturesque wee towns of whitewashed houses with colourful window frames and each with its castle peering across the river.
The heat is quite extraordinary by the middle of the afternoon. We had to spray the dinghy with water to even be able to touch it, let alone climb in and ride into town. Full awning over the cockpit and windscoop deployed for’ard keeps things bearable on board.
The ‘Tube Action’ donut claimed as salvage on a windy day way back in Alcudia is proving most useful under these conditions. It now streams out astern of the vessel (with the aid of its own plastic bag drogue), ready to be reclined upon for a spot of cooling off.
We expect to be here another couple of nights, before heading downriver a little further where there’s reputed to be the remains of a Roman villa.
Posted by Jim Brodie at 19:47