Portugal in the Box – #27

Wednesday 25th June 2008

Arcos de Valdevez – Braga – Cha – Chaves

„… I am running through the countryside, in a very wild and isolated region. I am escaping from an army of dwarves who are trying to capture me. It is difficult to escape from them because most of the time they are invisible, and appear only very rarely, in the least expected places, and close to me.
The landscape gradually transforms into a golf course and I reach a green. Surmounting the green is an immense and imposing white cross, and at the top of the cross, instead of Jesus Christ, is a vertical sarcophagus with a glass lid, illuminated, and with a corpse inside. I hear the dwarves laughing from inside the sarcophagus, the „green” itself is a perfect circle, made out of concrete. Around the perimeter there
are stone tables, with stone benches, arranged in a perfect circle too. At each table is a nun sitting at a computer, which in fact are laptop sculptures made out of stone. They all seem very busy working at the computer. I am scared and escape again. I reach the end of a way, and I have to decide to go left or right. But I have no idea where I am nor where I want to go. I decide to gather all the information I will find on my future journey to build an „information recycling machine…”

And don´t ask me please what the hell is an „info recycling machine”!!!
I was asked on different occasions if I would paint my dreams, or if already did it. This is of course a great idea, but I fear I won´t do it. I can´t paint everything which is crossing my crazy brain and my busy, curious eyes. At the moment I can´t even paint one tenth of what I see and wish to paint… but well, I am hoping that these dreams are saved somewhere in my subconscious and will reappear when I need inspiration some day… This is how I generally paint in fantasy: using the data bank made out of all the material I gather in my travels and daily life… oh, by the way, this might be the machine I wanted to build: my own brain?

I really don´t know how we manage it, but it is starting to get ridiculous. After the fireworks demonstration we had last night, almost literally within the motorhome, this morning I awoke with a very unpleasant, well-known feeling and loud motor noises. My whole body felt irritated, my eyes were burning, my nose was blocked, my brain was smokey… the typical symptoms of the hay fever allergy! One of the reasons why I generally choose to live by the sea and to stay by the sea as much as I can from March until October is this allergy. It used to drive me crazy when I lived in France or Germnay… and when one considers that I have have been a golf addict for ten years, one can imagine how much I suffered on the golf courses… anyway, as I got up this morning I found out the reason for this sudden attack of allergy. A big industrial lawn-mower had parked just next to us and was mowing the grass all around! The whole cut grass, an enormous quantity, was piled all around the motorhome and millions of their tiny nasty molecules entered with deep delight the motorhome through all the open skylights. Not the best way to start the day!!!

We had another great bike ride along the river, a wonderful river with extremely clean and transparent waters in all shades and tons of greens and blues, and wonderful trees and flowers all along ist banks. I am really amazed by the vegetation in Portugal, I have no idea if the stuff grows naturally or if they are planted by men, but you think all the time that you are in the middle of a Jardin des Plantes!
Then we rode up the hill to the town, because I wanted to make some sketches there. Of course the whole town was in festive mode and coloured paper and light bulb garlands were crossing the sky everywhere. Lovely decorations by the way, a little bit childish, or I should better say naive. But a wonderful, pure, healthy naivete… Again I must say that most of the towns in Portugal, even the tiniest village, look so cute, so healthy and reflect the most basic joy of living.
I sketched the funny houses, churches and town decorations for a while as Kevin was reading at a cafe, and then it was time to ride back to the motorhome. On the way down Kevin suddenly stopped by the town square again, the one where we saw the beautiful round fountain on the way up.
„Is that a clock?”
He stared at the fountain without any further words, then took his mobile out of his pocket, checked something and finally said:
„Incredible, it is a clock!”
I never saw such an extraordinary clock before. My English is too basic to describe it (like for everything I have to describe in this travel tale, I feel a deep frustration …), just let me tell you that it was made like a big fountain , with a diameter of about 10 meters, each quarter-hour was represented by a hole out of which water jumped when it was time. On the way up we had not noticed that it was a clock because it must have been 12h45 and alll the waters were out and it looked like a normal fountain. But it was 2h15 pm now, and we waited until the 2h30 water came out, and it really did! What a childish joy we had!
I must say that Portuguese are extremely creative with this kind of thing, with statues too. I notice it more and more. I normally have no attraction to statues (too dead, somehow) but here it is is different, I kind of like them because they are so creative and somehow genuine…

So, it is evening now and we are in parked in Chaves, about 15 kilometers away from the Spanish border. Again, a big parking by a lovely river, and without any sign of it being unwelcoming for motorhomes! We had had other plans, wanting to spend 2 nights at a campsite by a big lake in Cha, but after a long wonderful drive through breathtaking landscapes and -we could not believe it!- fantastic roads, we could not find the town Cha! The map I have is quite strange. We continuously cross towns which don´t exist in my map, and the towns signed in my map don´t exist in reality.
So here we are, and it seems an interesting town. We just had a first walk along the river, met again some strange statues, of wood this time,, naked men lying on the ground, piled one on top of each other…. good stuff for dreams!


2 Responses to “Portugal in the Box – #27”

  1. Susan Cornelis Says:

    Yes, it does seem like you are a magnet for life’s “activities” – from the fireworks and crowds to the allergenic grass clippings! It sounds like your eyes are so wide open all the time, that you see a great deal more than ordinary tourists. Heck, you might even be “dreaming” all the local spirits/ghosts.

  2. Miki Says:

    Hi Susan!
    You might be right and I should read Kevin’s travel tale to check if it was all real what I am writing about… It was quite easy to keep the eyes all the time, with all the stuff happening! But I must say that I quite enjoyed all these activities and explosion of life in Portugal. It was the feeling of a perpetual celebration of life, which appears quite healthy and natural to me…

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