Portugal, here we come…

Day 264, Faro, 14.137 km

Last turn and here I am, the border between Spain and Portugal. It should be the last administrative obstacle on my way. A border post on this small country road. 3 cars are in line, the occupants of the first one are talking with the customs officers. I put myself in the queue, my heart beating. I hope they will believe my story. The first car turns around. It seems that someone didn’t like their story. The pressure increases. The second car passes. The third one, with Portuguese plates, too. It’s my turn. « Olá – Olá – Ingles, Español? – Ingles, gracias – Where are you going, sir? – To Compostela – Really? You can stay in Spain then. Why do you want to cross the border ? – It was my grandfather’s dearest wish: to go to Compostela by following the coast. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could realize his dream. I’m trying to do it for him – I’m sorry, but it’s not going to be possible, we can’t let you pass for that – But, my grandfather… – Don’t insist, sir. The fine is very high here for those who try to enter the country without valid reasons. » Damn COVID…

Some of you may have already guessed it, but this scene only happened in my deranged brain. There are no more borders in Europe, at least not for bikes, and the last two days have proven this again. I do some preparatory work before leaving Sevilla, and it turns out that the ferry I was going to take in Ayamonte to cross the Guadiana river, which marks the border between Portugal and Spain, is not operating, and that the border between the two countries is closed… Nice. I study the map a bit and find a small mountain path that seems to cross the river a bit further north. It makes me make a small detour of a hundred kilometers, but if it gives me a chance to pass the border without trouble, I might as well try it.

I start from Sevilla, my legs are on fire and a little wind at my back gives me an extra boost. Especially since the road goes up a bit but gives the impression to go down even more. Easy. It’s hot, my chocolate bar is all melted, but the small wind mentioned above makes the temperature felt quite pleasant. The landscape changes. More colorful at first: the flowers, yellow, white or purple. The trees and bushes, of all shades of green. The gray and the ochre of the stone. And then there is water in the rivers, even if sometimes the colors are a bit surprising…

The Rio Odiel
The road that leads to Puebla de Guzmán

Just when I start to think that at the speed I’m going, I will have crossed the border before the night, I lose a screw that holds my luggage rack… Who’s being clever now?… Half an hour later I start again, praying that my bottle holder (from which I removed a screw to hold the luggage rack) doesn’t let me down on the way. Paymogo. Then my little dirt road. At each turn, my heart is racing: Will there be a border post. A passage even? A barrier blocking it all? A sign? The much awaited turn finally arrives and I can’t stop laughing… I let you judge by yourselves.

The border

It’s a ford. Nice luck! I play it safe, I take off my panniers to pass. It allows me to refresh myself while passing. Once on the other side, bam I gain one hour… This border is practical. I just passed the 14.000 km mark. I just entered Portugal. I find a ruin overhanging the river to protect me from the wind and I get ready to spend this first Portuguese night there.

Quiet, sheltered…

I hear bells during the whole night, it must be the cows playing the Easter bunny, but none of them bother me. In the early morning, I hear a car approaching. A little old man gets out, waves to me, and drives off. Why not. The roads are empty. I met 3 cars during the first 2 hours. It’s a bit more hilly than the day before (I think the wind is not pushing me this time, as lifeless windmills are watching me passing by). It’s getting hot. 30°. And not a shady place to hide. I drink my water bottles in less time than it takes to write this but I always find a fountain in the right place. Nothing to complain about. I enter the Algarve. Forest as far as the eye can see. Hills. And only the sound of birds to accompany the sun that hits.

Can you count the storks?
The forest of the Algarve

In the end, it’s a good thing the ferry didn’t cross the river, I would have missed it all… The arrival in Faro is anecdotal: a long straight line, trucks brushing me, factories and warehouses… After a quick shower, I take a little tour in the city. It’s empty. Covid rules I guess. That doesn’t prevent me from finding a small restaurant to recover from my day and to look forward to a new night in a real bed…

Jay and Bob in Portugal!

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