Walking on water

I’ve done and seen some wonderful things down the years, but I never had any thought that I could walk on water!  For one thing, I’ve never worn a halo.  Water wings would be more useful.  Nevertheless, last Saturday I found myself joining a queue to walk across the River Guadiana- a distance of approximately 720 metres- from Alcoutim, on the Portuguese side, to Sanlucar de Guadiana, in Spain.

Alcoutim is normally a sleepy little place and, over on the far shore, the enticing white village of Sanlucar is even quieter. If you have any desire to cross the river, you first have to summon a ferryman, who may or may not be located somewhere near his craft, but will always greet you with a friendly smile.  Not so on this occasion.  The ‘Festival do Contrabando’ was in full swing and, even as I walked down towards the river, I could hear the hubbub of the crowd.

Entertainment was in full swing, with a feisty matador swinging his cape at a ‘burro’ as the band played on, and the crowd cheered as clay pots were hurled through the air and skilfully caught.

This was not the Alcoutim I knew!  I eased through the crowd to the ‘ticket office’, where I purchased the mandatory bandana, for my admission fee of 1 euro.  I joined the queue to cross the river, wondering at what rakish angle I should wear it, and why some were wearing red ones when the vast majority were blue, like mine.  Just then the washer ladies arrived, and I was scolded gently and treated to a rub with scented soap.  I obviously wasn’t clean enough to join the party.

Slowly the queue shuffled forward, controlled by customs officers, of course.  The red bandana folk caught the ferry.  Maybe they had a pressing engagement in Spain.  I followed the washerwomen, laughing and calling out to each other as they flounced ahead.  The moment finally arrived and I stepped out onto the pontoon, trying not to look concerned as it wobbled.  What a bizarre sensation!  The river lapped gently all around me and I rolled slowly with its motion.  Gasps and giggles came from my partners in crime, as we staggered towards the middle of the river, not quite believing in what was happening.

Fortunately it was a calm day.  I think I might have felt a little seasick otherwise.  As it was I had assumed the rolling gait of the mariner by the time I reached dry land.  And a huge smile split my face.  I had walked on water!

Over in Sanlucar de Guadiana the antics continued.  Flamenco, involving the crowd and a very attractive ram.  A good time for all was guaranteed.  I wended my way past wondrous craft stalls to a quiet corner where I could survey the scene.

A mooch among the stalls and it was time to join the ever growing queue to return to the other side.  A few clouds had rolled in and there was talk of storms brewing, but fortunately the weather stayed clear and dry all weekend.  One last look back, and I’m home.

For a fuller account, including the story of the ‘last smuggler’, all of 97 years old, read Becky’s An unusual walk into Spain.  That’s it from me, as my son arrives tonight.  I’ll be back with a walk on Monday, 15th April.  Take good care till then!


  1. Jo that looks very intriguing. I know you can walk most anywhere but I did wonder how you were going to manage walking on water! Have a wonderful visit with your son. Such special times. xo

      1. Jo, I was sooo happy to see and read this post . Something new to me and you told it so well. Thank you.

  2. Full of your usual high spirit of enjoyment Jo, and much welcomed here as the weather turns cold again with an east wind keeping me indoors. I’ve never done that trip but it made me think that should Portugal or Spain decide to do an Iberian ‘Sprexit’ there is another watery border to cause trouble. Like the one in N. Ireland which I crossed a few weeks ago which seems to have been overlooked. Down the middle of Carlingford Lough runs the border between North and South Ireland and ferry boats, fishing boats and cruise boats happily crisscross the 4 miles between Warrenpoint in the North and Omeath in the South. Hard border, soft border, or watery border?

    1. I’m staying well clear of the subject, Mari. 😊 Did you have a lovely time with your friend and was Cordoba as beautiful as 1 remember? Sending hugs 😎🍰🍸💕

    1. Thanks sweetheart! Waiting for a train to our Portuguese lesson and perhaps squeezing in a torchlit walk before dashing off to the airport 😄🌊💕 xx

  3. What a lively excursion. And I love the way you wrote this, especially the opening paragraph, likening walking on water to some magical experience. Have fun with James & company! I know you’ll have a grand time. 🙂

    1. It’s been a crazy few days, Cathy, but this was enormous fun. I’m waiting for the train to Olhao for our Portuguese lesson then we may do a torchlit walk before dashing off to the airport. Never a dull moment 😄💕

  4. What an interesting experience Jo. You certainly find interesting things to do on your walks – including walking on water 😀
    Enjoy your time with your son.

  5. The Portuguese do seem to have a lot of fun! Although I do think this is cheating a little, I was expecting you on a paddle board or skim board. Still I think I’d find it tricky to walk on a floating path. Have a lovely time with the family. Got very cold again here, like winter. Hailstones and sleet- yuk!

    1. Snow on the North York Moors! My sense of balance isn’t up to paddle boarding. Even if I sit down! On our way to a Portuguese lesson -going ok but fluency is light years away. May squeeze in a torchlit walk this evening before we dash to the airport. Hope it isn’t after 1 in the morning, like last time they came. Thanks hon. Pure blue and 20C. Please let it last! 😎🌊💕

  6. Ηave nice moments with your son Jo!!!!

    You’ve done a great job once again. The light in your images is spectacular, wonderfully captured!!!


  7. I think I’ve said this before – but the Portuguese do have a gift for enjoying themselves and in astonishing ways. So glad you didn’t take an unwanted dip 🙂

  8. Oh this is lovely Jo, think I prefer your soap scrub though to my chicken harangue!! And glad it wasn’t just us who had a wobble on the bridge.

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