Jo’s Monday walk : Alternative Ayamonte

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It seems strange to be blogging again.  The even keel with which I was sailing seems slightly out of kilter.  When I visited Ayamonte I had no idea that Dad was ill.  With my usual exuberance I was seeking out a less well known aspect of this intensely Spanish town, visible from the Algarve across the River Guadiana.  The ferry journey is part of the attraction for me, and I love to watch as the white houses draw nearer and we nose into the quay.  An hour has slipped away on the 10 minute crossing, and a different culture awaits.

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Maybe you remember A little side trip to Spain ?  This time I had my eye fixed on the church at the upper level of the town, San Salvador.  Looking back, the road bridge follows me into Spain.  The shoreline leads past an enigmatic statue and a severely embattled boat hull.

Beyond the boatyard a network of noisily inhabited streets open out.  The Spanish greet and call out to each other in a tongue more harsh than I’m used.  I exchange shy smiles and try to remember that ‘thank you’ is not ‘obrigada’ in Spain.

Ayamonte has changed hands between Portugal and Spain a number of times in its history.  The name is thought to come from the mound on which the settlement was built.  The Romans knew it as Aya Montis (or Mount Aya).  Beyond the modern apartments The Templo de San Francisco beams indulgently.  Once it belonged to a Franciscan convent, founded in 1417.

The street is nothing if not colourful, and my eyes wander from rooftops to doorways and back again.  I am particularly taken with a fully tiled jade green building, balconies gleaming with cool elegance.  I anticipate plenty of customers for the fish restaurant.

Turning the corner the street narrows and starts to ascend.  Still looking up and down, the random delight of spouting gargoyles, serpentine door knockers, a subtle school and the indisputably Spanish window grills.  A senhora pours water down the gutter and languid chat ensues.

Halfway up the street I encounter the mystery of El Boqueron.  A chapel and a huge well denote the place where an underground tunnel links the former castle at Ayamonte with the Portuguese town, Castro Marim, on the other side of the Guadiana river.  The passage is about 300 metres long and runs from the area of the well on Calle Galdames.  It is part of a sewerage network, channeling rainwater and domestic water from homes.  A large trough ripples gently in the bright sunlight.

I knew nothing of El Boqueron in advance and, not being fluent in Spanish, it wasn’t until I returned home that I could unravel this mystery. Incredible to think of this structure, used as a hiding place in war time, beneath these tranquil streets.

Continuing upwards, finally I reach Plaza del Salvador.  The magnificent pink-belfried church of San Salvador dominates the square. All is silent and the church closed, so I cannot verify the lovely Mudejar ceiling from 1400, nor climb to the belfry for the fine views.

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Beyond the plaza the modern world intrudes, overlooked by the remnants of a fortress.  I make my way back down towards the waterfront and make one final discovery, on Calle Marte.  The bull ring, resolute in its presence, though I could never have persuaded myself to witness its spectacle.

In Ayamonte eventually everyone gravitates towards Plaza de la Laguna, and so do I.  The restaurants surrounding the striking square hum with Spanish lunchtime chatter.  In a quiet corner, children choose an after dinner treat from the sweet shop.  The assistant solemnly awaits the outcome of this most important decision.

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For me it’s time to return to Calle Muelle de Portugal for the ferry crossing back to Vila Real de S. Antonio.  I hope you enjoyed my visit to Ayamonte.  Further details can be found in this Ayamonte guide, and in the link to El Boqueron.

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Thank you so much for your kindness and for the many messages of support I have received.  Dad had a fine ‘send off’ and I’m doing my best to adjust to life without him.  It’s what he would have wanted.

I’m back in business for walks this week so if you have any you’d like to share I’d be grateful.  As usual details are to be found on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.  Meantime please enjoy these select few :

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Becky does find interesting subjects for her walks.  Don’t miss this one!

Unexpected and fascinating art on Howland Street

And equally unexpected and interesting from Yvette.  I almost missed this one!

Walk with Jo : Food and cast iron (SC Flea Market Part 2)

I passed by this place on a long ago trip to America.  Let Elaine show you around :

Hearst Castle

‘Your money or your life?’  Nope- that was Dick Turpin, wasn’t it, Becky?

Waylaid by Captain Kidd on the Thames Path

Take care of yourselves.  I hope to be out and about visiting you all soon.

 

132 comments

  1. Hey darling thanks for taking me back, although I don’t recognise very much! I remember the beautiful square, it was scorching and I ‘chatted’ with some elderly ladies on a bench. Is the church the one at the top of some steep white stone steps with trees and benches along the way? It was closed when I was there and I remember a total silence that made me whisper!

    1. Lovely to have you around again darlin. Take it easy though! This is alternative Ayamonte, Gilly- not so much the central bit. The church you mean is just behind the square, whereas I went along the waterfront and up the hill at the back of the town. Just to see what’s there 🙂 🙂

  2. In the blink of an eye, things change, don’t they? The best of good wishes to you.
    (We passed through Ayamonte on a bus from Sevilla, and your photos are so much more personal to me after our travels to this lovely area!!:)))

    1. Sadly, they do, Susan. Some things I am grateful for though. I could not have watched him suffer, and he never lost his independence. Lovely to have you back here. 🙂

  3. What intensely blue skies, and I love all of the architectural details on the buildings. Another great walk, Jo. I’ve had you in my thoughts. I hope that knowing you have so many of us thinking of you around the world provides a little comfort right now.

    1. Thanks, Susan. It is rather amazing when I think of our ‘family’ network around the world, and all the kind thoughts I’ve received. Sundays are one of my bogey days because Dad always used to come for lunch. Sometimes I wished he wouldn’t so that I could go out somewhere. They say to be careful what you wish for.

    1. It was a wonderful day, Draco, but it ended in total disbelief for me with the news that Dad had died. I’m still picking myself up, dusting myself off and starting all over again.

  4. Beautiful, vibrant photos. I would know your palm trees anywhere, and the facades. #3668 is particularly cute.It’s good to see you blogging again, Jo. Take care of yourself.

    1. Thanks, Paula 🙂 This was a particularly poignant walk for me because I was happy as a lark when I did it, not knowing Dad was already in hospital. I needed to ‘get it out of the way’. Not sure what comes next but I’ll be around.

  5. Glad you had your holiday in such a beautiful place Jo. I didn’t know my dad was so ill either when I was away in Cornwall for a few days…and I know both our dads would want us to enjoy every day of our lives, filled with love and so many happy memories… ❤

    1. I have to agree with you there, Sherri. 🙂 I’ve had a touch of the miseries today, but I gave myself a shake and went to t’ai chi. So very many people are less lucky than us. Hugs, darlin!

      1. Yes…you’re right…and we need those shakes. Those tears come and go… Let’s keep hold of those hugs and we’ll be okay dear Jo … 🙂 ❤ xxx

  6. Beautiful walk no – the passage way underground of 300 meters must have been tough to make back in the day!
    I scrolled the photos a third time – soaking up different tidbits (like how high those iron gates are on those upper Bernard’s) and different aspects s of composition – like the full palm tree or the shot with the palm trees and structures – nice verticals!
    So much to enjoy

  7. I love Ayamonte and Villa Real. The Guadiana is so wide there and the ferry a great way to cross. I’ve been investigating a song about Maria la Portuguesa set between the two towns! Maybe I’ll post on it as it has been my initiation into flamenco singing but it can be sung in my favourite fado style. I hope you find some peace in the memories of your Dad and it is hard at first with the physical loss of someone who has always been there for us. Our thoughts are with you.

  8. What a beautiful town, Jo. I would love to wander around these streets. I’m so sorry you didn’t know your dad was ill; it might have softened the blow but it would have been hard nonetheless. I’m sure he would have wanted you to continue on to enjoy your life. Thanks for sharing your indomitable spirit. xxx

    1. We had such a happy day, Cathy, and then it all fell to pieces. But you’re right- Dad would have wanted me to be happy. He was a wonderful Dad and I have to live up to his example. Thanks, darlin. Hope you had a great birthday yesterday. I’ll be visiting this evening, I hope 🙂 🙂 Sending hugs!

  9. How lovely to see you again and with such a delightful walk – I am totally envious of that blue sky and only wish we had had similar in Barcelona, but the best day was, as so often happens, on the last day when we spent half of it at the airport! Maybe next time I go away with the daughter we head further south! I am constantly thinking of you and hope things are going alright. Keep your pecker up as they say in t’ north 🙂

    1. I gather Sue’s recommending Cordoba for the Patio festival in May. We missed it by a week! You’ve been to Cordoba, haven’t you? Trouble is I seem to have committed to many things next May and there’s a visit from the Norfolk family due too. We’ll see 🙂

  10. Beautiful post/walk and I will come back to this later, since I am a bit rushed off my feet this week – but for today I just want to give you a big big hug and say “chin up, girl” 🙂 life does go on – my prayers were with you.

  11. Ayamonte looks so lovely Jo – some gorgeous colours especially that blue! So sorry again for the loss of your dad – very brave of you to write up this lovely Spanish walk under the circumstances. It must be a surreal time at present, take care xx

  12. Welcome back to the blogosphere, Jo! I’ve been thinking of you this week … no matter the age, no matter how well they lived their life, it’s life-changing when we lose a parent.
    Ayamonte looks beautiful! My favourite is the palm against that blue, blue sky!

  13. questi piccoli-grandi borghi che conservano intatte le loro tradizioni e le loro bellezze nel tempo, i bianco blu festosi e straordinari, che brillano di una luce così limpida! i particolari che risaltano nel tuo esauriente e grandioso reportage
    felice di nuovamente salutarti, un grosso bacio

    1. Hi Kathryn 🙂 Thanks for that. I have to admit I’m finding it hard to sleep at nights but there are lots of wonderful memories to return to when things have settled down. Thanks for walking with me.

      1. I’d have the same problem. I always suffer from sleep deprivation when I’m emotionally not well! Your Dad will live on in your memories. Stay strong.

  14. Pingback: My weekly ramble |
  15. Lovely to see you back here Jo and my heartfelt thoughts are with you and your family on the loss of your dad. I’m still feeling the loss of my mum, two months on, but life goes on doesn’t it? And we look for joy in the small moments, in those around us, in our memories and nature and in our beautiful world, as you have here Jo. Hugs to you xo

    1. Hiya darlin’ 🙂 I could never have imagined it happening so swiftly or so soon, Miriam, but the love and the memories that we shared will always be with me. Thanks, hon.

      1. Oh Jo, I feel for you. What a shock. No death is ever easy to handle, whether it’s sudden and quick or long and protracted like mums. Yes, we take heart in our special memories, absolutely . ❤️ xo

  16. Beautiful place and so nice that you have easy access being so near the border with Spain. I loved all your photos and the blue skies are gorgeous, soon we will be craving it like mad. I am sorry about your sad loss, time is a great healer. I lost my mum in 2001 and still miss her, but at least I can talk about her now without the floods of tears.

    1. Thanks, Gilda. My mam was only 65 when she died- younger than I am now- and I mourned and mourned. Dad was 88 and, bless him, had lived a full life. He left a lot of love behind him. 🙂

      1. Jo my Mum was also only 65 when she died…like your Mum far too young. My father married again and last week his second wife ( my step mum) died. She was just 67, my father is heartbroken. He lives in Brazil and I was not able to go for the funeral, but my sister and brother are there supporting him. Sad times…

      2. That’s awful for you, being so far away, Gilda! I’m sorry. Funnily enough, Dad was married twice too. His second wife died on his 70th birthday. Nothing to do but make the most of the life we have and love each other.

  17. Jo, everything must be very unreal for you now andI imagine your ‘out of kilter’ is typical British understatement. I applaud your courage to return to the normal and lovely to see you back on your blog – that takes real guts. As always you paint a wonderful picture and Ayamonte looks delightful, amazing buildings, the colours so pristine and pure. Took mind off the dark autumn night. Hugs to you, take care. Annika

    1. Thanks, sweetheart! In my case, half British/half Polish understatement 🙂 🙂 To be fair, Annika, he had a good life overall and though a terrible shock when it happened I’m happy for him that he left this life while still an independent person. I hope that I can do the same. There are a wealth of memories.

  18. I am very sorry to hear of your loss Jo, my thoughts are with you and your family. It’s going to take some time to adjust, glad to see that you are slowly going back out and walking – taking your mind off of the situation for a bit. Hopefully your memories of your Dad will sooth you and bring back many special times you had with him. Hugs from TX my friend.

    1. Thanks, Mary 🙂 We’ve already spent many family hours looking back at his life and I have the biggest pile of photos to wade through. Sorting the house is a sad process but I have lots of help.

  19. Beautiful photos, Jo. I am especially charmed by all the detail shots. And the blue sky, of course. What a beautiful town, especially when one can look beyond the modern parts. There is a town in Puerto Rico that’s called Boqueron. I wonder whether there is a connection. Sorry again for your loss, Jo. While I’m sure you had mixed emotions about not knowing your dad was ill, that did allow you to make the best of and enjoy your Ayamonte visit. I hope you are able to cope and that blogging manages to distract you a bit from this new reality.

    1. I’m sure I’d heard of El Boqueron before, Liesbet, but I can’t remember in what context. We were back out walking today with my English walking friends and my diary is starting to fill up again, with things that don’t relate to Dad’s dying. I’m sad to have lost him but so happy that he left this life while he was still independent. Time wasn’t on his side. Thanks a lot for your company. 🙂

  20. So sorry to read about your loss Jo. Bad enough when you are close at hand but heartbreaking if you are away.
    The warmth in your photographs really shines out. It looks like a wonderful place to visit and take a walk. The Plaza de la Laguna is somewhere I could happily idle away some time!
    In the meantime, could I add one of my own walks from last week? Somewhat different weather, a very blustery walk around Boscastle in North Cornwall:
    https://www.rustyduck.net/2016/10/19/blown-away-at-boscastle/

    1. That’s fabulous! Can’t remember when I was last blown around Boscastle 🙂 🙂 Yes, it was a very different temperature in the Algarve. Kept shaking our heads and saying October? Unreal! But very sad. How life can change with a phone call!

  21. Wonderful walk, Jo…having just been to Spain, I found myself noticing the quirky Spanish things like the window railings, the tiles…. Well done for returning to blog land, I have been thinking of you this past week mega hugs…

    1. Thanks, Sue 🙂 It’s been a strange few weeks. Just to add to the chaos our son reversed into a bollard while we were away and this weekend was spent getting him a new car. Still, cars are much easier to replace than people.

  22. Good to see you on the blog this Monday morning, Jo. Thinking of you as you walk the journey through loss.
    Your photos, as always make me feel
    I am alongside you as you walk.

    1. Hi Ruth 🙂 I was out with my walking friends in England again this morning. The first since Dad died. I guess there’ll be many firsts. Thank you so much for your kindness.

    1. Really strange to know that while I was taking this walk Dad was in hospital, Carole. And that only hours later he was dead. We have spent lots of time with the family since then, sharing memories 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kate! I’ve used the ferry lots of times. It’s especially good when they have the 3 Kings celebration in January and the Kings cross over to Spain on it. 🙂 Chucking sweets about as they go!

  23. I loved visiting Ayamonte with you, Jo. So much to see along the climb to Plaza del Salvador. The blue sky, the historical architecture, the churches…it feels like such a peaceful place. Those kids look very eager for their after dinner sweet…hope they got something and enjoyed it 🙂 Sorry to hear about your dad, Jo. Life can sometimes be hard, but at the end of the day we have memories to hold on to 🙂

  24. What a delightful border crossing! Love the look of that colourful town square. Shall try and link a belated walk of my own this week. Take care Jo😘

  25. Wonderful to have you back
    And what a beautifully written post. I enjoyed all your words and photos. Plus, it’s just the sort of trip I love to make.
    And I know what you mean about harsh Spanish. It’s a huge contrast to Portuguese.

  26. One life goes on while another life, unbeknownst, is failing. This is another one of the mysteries of death. This is a lovely walk, beautifully written and photographed. All those delightful details, my favourite the pot plants on the yellow balcony. Or … or. …. or … Those last photos are superb – probably only because I saw them most recently with this porridge brain! Thinking of you, my dear, as you settle into a life without your father.

  27. Lovely to see more of this town. We’ve stopped there several times en route to Portugal but never really looked around. Stay positive, it’s still very early days for you to adjust to this difficult change x

    1. I know, Tanya. I’ll be back out walking with our group today. Mostly things are settling down and my step brother has taken most of the responsibility for Dad’s house. Thanks, hon. 🙂

  28. Amazing the variations considering it is only 10minutes away. Definitely plan to visit this forthcoming trip.

    So so lovely to have you back, we’ve missed you and been thinking of you most days. Take care xxx

    1. Thanks, Becky. 🙂 El Boqueron was an astounding find. More to this place than meets the eye. (groan!) Forest walking with our group today. 1st time out with them since Dad died so I’ll be going over it again. Hugs, darlin.

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