A sleepy little village, and a gentle stroll down to the Guadiana and back. A bright blue sky, sun climbing steadily into warmth. A couple of friends for good company. What could possibly go wrong?
Nothing was further from our minds as we left Azinhal, nodding good morning through our masks to a couple of villagers and being careful to maintain a safe distance. Relaxed and happy, we removed the masks and breathed in the wonderful clear air. The trail led out past the church to the fields of crops beyond, hazy mist lining the valley below.
Aware of heavy rains in the previous days, we chose our path carefully, but the gritty surface appeared to have absorbed much of the wet. The oranges positively sparkled in their green surrounds. The old mill had lost its sails, but on the far horizon you could just make out a wind farm, propellers churning through Spanish air. Our nimblest walker climbed the trig point to play lookout.
From yon side of a flimsy rope fence we were eyed uncertainly by a herd of young bullocks. Avoiding eye contact we strode by, into the next valley, where a more pastoral scene met our eyes. A flock of sheep bleated warnings to their young. Gambolling legs had strayed from mother’s side.
We were back at ground level, the Guadiana sparkling beside us, and the smell of newly cut eucalyptus filling the air. An idyllic scene, with fisherman midstream, tending to his nets. Little did we know that all was soon to go horribly wrong. The path alongside the river was a bit muddy and wet, and within a short distance we came upon a rope preventing access to the next section of the walk. Our choices were to concede defeat and retrace our steps, or climb over the rope and chance going ahead. You know what we did, don’t you?
Looking furtively around – there was no-one in sight other than the boatman, and some far distant workers – we lowered the rope and stepped over it. There was no obvious reason or explanation for it being there but, as the ground became increasingly squelchy and oozy, we began to have our suspicions. Feet slithered in the mud and we teetered precariously for a few yards. It sucked at our boots, clinging on and making balance difficult. Looking for an alternative, my husband climbed up onto the spongy grass alongside our path and, with blind faith, we followed. The Guadiana was flowing swiftly along, a few feet below, and definitely focused the mind. Sunny and warm though it was, no way did I fancy swimming practise. For what seemed like hours we tottered along, trying to find a firm foothold. Looking back the rope seemed impossibly distant, and the thought of slithering back the way we’d come a most unwelcome one. Whose bright idea, you catch yourself wondering.
The path stretched ahead and round a curve, looking equally muddy for as far as we could see. Legs were getting tired and a decision needed to be made. Far across the fields we knew there was a much drier path, but the terrain approaching it was very boggy. And somewhere within that area the young bullocks were roaming freely. There wasn’t really a choice so, reluctantly we ducked beneath another rope and set off across the field, choosing our steps with care. The land was saturated and many times a leap for dry ground was needed. But, eventually, we gained the far side and firmer ground, and heaved a collective sigh of relief. I broke out some sticky lollies in a moment of wild celebration. They’d been bought for Halloween and had sat patiently, waiting for trick or treaters, ever since. As we climbed steadily back towards the village we caught sight of a few bullocks. Happily the lush green pasture was more appealing to them than our lollies.
And us? As always we found a cake to suit the occasion. There is a café in the village which sells very delicious cakes, but it was closed. When the need arises, we can be resourceful! Almond cake, in case you were wondering. And so, with Azinhal and almonds, I’m joining Patti’s challenge.
If you can find a little time, please visit the following lovely people. You won’t be sorry!
A fabulous way to start a roundup! Join Mel at sunrise :
I met a nice man called Allan recently. Pop over and say hello?
A familiar friend, who always enjoys a chat, Mari loves her Isle of Wight home :
You can always spend time with Drake. I love his outlook on life :
This is in Denzil’s Top Ten in Belgium, so it has to be a goodie :
Natalie keeps her cheerful head on, and simply enjoys the beauty :
Boats, blue skies and a new little dog all make Eunice happy :
While Ann Christine and Milo make the most wonderful company :
Can’t beat a bit of…. weather! Join Margaret on a good yomp in Wharfedale :
Thankfully, Jonno and Jo are back together now, keeping each other warm :
Not strictly a walk, but a piece of nostalgia for me. Be sure to watch the video in Robin’s comments :
Nothing if not an eclectic mix this week, I defy you not to find pleasure with Marsha :
Or enhance your life with the beauty in Lynn’s world :
And share some wonderful memories with Terri :
Alison takes us on a special mountain hike in Japan :
And we journey into December very beautifully, with Jude :
My posts have become a little erratic lately, but I’m sure you’ll have noticed that this isn’t a Monday. It’s been a difficult week and the unexpected death of my stepbrother, Tony, on Sunday left me adrift. He was a kind and gentle man, who will be sorely missed. Two days later the life support of a friend here in the Algarve was switched off. Neither deserved to die so young. Finishing writing my walk has been a good distraction. I hope to have one more Jo’s Monday walk before Christmas. I can almost guarantee it will be on a Monday.