I’m not much of a sailor but I truly love the sea. That glint of sunshine on water always lifts my spirits, and calls to mind that old John Denver song. A warm mid-October day finds me strolling on the Eastern Algarve beach of Ilha Tavira.
The ferry had carried us out from Quatro Aguas, the meeting point of river and the salt water channels of the Ria Formosa. Sailing boats bobbed alongside, trying to pick up a breeze on the silky calm water.
In the salt pans flamingos still lingered, not yet needing to head south for the winter. As we cross over the island beneath fragrant pines, the warm breeze rushes to greet us.
Michael spreads a towel. I wander from beach to shallows, slowly following the sand martins as they dart industriously about. The retreating tide wriggles and squirms backwards. Tiny pinpricks in the sand indicate where small sea creatures lurk, clinging on for dear life. Portuguese fisher folk are only too keen to wrest them from their homes.
A lady nearby collects shells. “Gorgeous, aren’t they?” I ask. “Yes, I’m going to make them into a necklace”. A magical idea for an enduring souvenir. Perhaps I could try? I like to think I have an “eye” but I’m really not good with my hands.
Two days later we have crossed to the island from Barril, using the land train that always makes my husband smile. The same sea, a different day- urgent waves slapping the shore.
A Dutch family launch themselves with huge delight into the bubbling foam. All along the beach, castles and sea defences tumble, childish faces both captivated and dismayed at the rampant destruction. Adults just stand and gaze at this awesome display of power.
Looking inland hazy blue hills rise gently to the heights of Monchique.
Another ferry, small and bustling this time, takes us from the smart new boardwalk at Cabanas across the lagoon to another impeccable stretch of beach. Hot today and calm enough to lay at the water’s edge as it laps over you.
How can so much beauty be contained within a few short miles? The images play over and over again in my mind.