Day 33 Ourique, Portugal

knbp8yxQTy+IjCMfiCWiKASome days just start better than others – today was one of them. I set off to the wash block for my morning shower, and couldn’t believe what greeted me. A shower cubicle so huge, with an adjoining dressing area so big, that the entire dressing area floor stayed as dry as a bone, negating the need to do strange limbo movements to avoid getting your clothes wet as you dress afterwards. What’s more – and this is the best thing, by far – there was piped sixties music playing! Wonderful tunes like ‘Sugar Baby Love’ by the Rubettes, ‘Times they are a Changing’ by Bob Dylan and ‘Baby Love’ by Diana Ross and the Supremes. It was impossible not to start dancing along to the music as you showered. Then, as I turned my shower off and started dressing, I heard the tone deaf tones of Howard, singing away in the adjoining men’s showers. I did challenge him as we chatted over breakfast, and he did admit to dancing too!
I have noticed, though, a certain dress code that is becoming a familiar site at many of the campsites. The men, in particular, when they go for a shower, seem the need to dress up in the most ridiculous looking dressing gowns and plastic slip-on shoes. Most of them are balding, and past their sell by dates, and I can honestly say that it is not a good look. I have banned Howard from even considering purchasing a gown.
Oscar stayed at the campsite today whilst we went off hiking. The campsite owner had told us of a good walk, along the River Mira, then up to the highest point point in the surrounding hills, and then back again. He showed us a map, and Howard took a photo of the route on his phone. It started well, the sun was shining, and we felt optimistic. We quickly realised, however, that trying to read a map from a mobile phone is not that easy. We knew that some point we had to cross the river, but it was not clear exactly where. The path suddenly petered out, and Howard went searching through the undergrowth for a way through. On his return five minutes later, he had lost one of the walking poles strapped to the rucksack. Another twenty minutes later, once Howard had eventually retrieved the pole, we set off again and managed to ford our way across. Initially following the path along the river bank was straightforward, and we delighted in all the birdlife we were spotting, including glimpsing a kingfisher diving into the water. But then the path fizzled out again, and we ended up climbing up a steep bank to try to find the route. At one point, Howard produced his Garmin from his pocket, and I started to become concerned. At the same moment he announced, and I quote, ‘A walk is a walk, you don’t necessarily choose the shortest distance between two points’. I knew for certain then that we were indeed lost! Eventually we climbed up to a high look out and spied the masts on the top of an adjoining hill, and managed to get back on track. The whole route meandered through groves of cork trees, many with their lower trunk a reddish brown and bare, from where they had been harvested for cork. The campsite owner told us that this is done every eight years, and that in that time, the cork slowly regrows on the trunk.
By the time we arrived back at the campsite, I was hot and exhausted. I will definitely deserve my drink tonight. The moral of the story is, never trust a man with a Garmin!
The bell for evening drinks has just been rung, so really it would be rude not to join in!

One thought on “Day 33 Ourique, Portugal

  1. Aha! Good story, and good birding too, however your story reminds me that the Portuguese just do not do walking. H and I walked 4km once and my colleagues thought we were bonkers!!


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