We drive in silence past the sun scorched plains of Arcos de la Frontera, so many thoughts and memories running through our heads.
My hands are not steady on the wheel and my stomach is softly churning. I’m smiling yet teary eyed, happy but sad, excited and nervous.
It’s not long before the yellow landscape merges into sprawling Seville and by the time we are on the road to Huelva the adrenaline of the day, the weekend or perhaps even the last three months starts to decline. A rumble in my belly indicates that my emotions are settling and it’s time to pull over for some food.
With Cheshire Cat smiles Olof and I reflect, “What a Weekend”. We had left the Alpujarra, in Granada on Friday morning after two loving weeks with our families. It made for a sad morning as we drove our parents to Malaga airport for their return flights home. However, this was followed by the best send off anyone could wish for.
From Malaga we drove past our old home of six years, Gibraltar. It was such a clear day and the sight of Africa on the horizon, which we had become so familiar with over the years, gave us one last phenomenal display, we waved goodbye to the rock and reminisced, not sure if we will ever return to this place which had provided us with so much happiness over the years.
Now we were only one hour and a half away from our leaving party weekend venue, Fain Viejo, in Arcos de la Frontera.
What a treat, this amazing hacienda hosted 25 of our nearest and dearest, where we feasted on some of the finest foods, sampled and over indulged on great local tipple and danced to our hearts content. We kicked back and relaxed in the most beautiful surroundings and even entertained ourselves with late night aqua aerobics. As the weekend drew to a close we found the lost children in our hearts as we improvised a fake Connerstig wedding (the joint surname of myself and Olof) and played games in the pool before our time ran out. Our friends had given us the best send off, and gave us more than we ever could have wished for. The “Gib Massive” (local dialect for our Gibraltar family of friends) had funded the purchase of amazing backpacks for our worldwide trip and publicly sealed the love in our relationship. It was emotional, very emotional.
So now we find ourselves near the border to Portugal, with a hire car packed to the brim as we embark on a two year journey. We ponder over some of the objectives we have set ourselves; getting around the world without taking a flight, sticking to our yearly budget of £20k per person (less if we can), building our website TheEcoQuest.com, learning more about permaculture and removing ourselves from the commercial world. I can’t find any perspective on these objectives right now but what I do know is that I am starting to feel a little relaxed.
We have planned to spend three weeks in Portugal and Olof took responsibility of the Itinerary. Normally I would struggle if i didn’t know what was happening or where we were going, but I am going to learn to sit back, I am sitting back, in fact I have sat back, Olof is in charge, DONE. (only I have to do the driving, so I need to have some idea about where we are going!)
For now I know that we are making our way to the West Coast of the Algarve, where we will be staying on a Permaculture farm for 6 days, 3 days volunteering and 3 days on a Medicinal Herbs Workshop. Olof pumps the GPS co-ordinates into the Sat-Nav and away we go.
It’s not long before we cross the border into Portugal, somehow manage to get ourselves confused with the toll system, god knows how as it really is straight forward, and cruise through the Algarve.
“In 500 metres you have reached your destination”.
Erm, unless there is a Permaculture farm in the centre of Silves, I think it is more like turn around when possible.
Time to revert back to good old written instructions. Final destination is in fact another 45 minutes away at which point my bladder becomes very disappointed.
Off the highway the roads soon start to wind through small pine forests and we sense we are heading in the right direction.
It’s not long before we ascend on a small town, Aljezur, which we pass through until we find the track to the Farm. It feels good, the area is green and there are only a few farms scattered over the small hills.
Just as the track starts to worsen we arrive. We see the house and can hear voices.
A man up on the hill shouts hello. “Hi, Olof and Anna here” we shout back and make our way on foot up the hill. Past two rather large dogs we approach an old man who resembles Father Christmas in a hippie outfit.
“You are looking for me?” he asks in what sounded like a German accent.
“Are you Chris?” I question.
“No you’ve got the wrong place, Chris lives next door”.
By now it is starting to get a little dark, so we quickly make our way back to the car and follow the track until we reach a foot bridge. This must be the place. We walk over the foot bridge as a little heaven opens up in front, we pass a healthy vegetable garden and some little cottages come into view, protected by two barking dogs. “Hello, Hello” we shout, but within a short while it becomes apparent no-one is home.
Olof had been trying to contact Chris as we were driving through Portugal but to no avail. Under normal circumstances, I guess this would have been the time where I would have started to get irate, but this would be the first of many mishaps on our journey.
We shrug and smile and head back to the car, Varzea Da Goncala looks like a nice place and so we looked forward to our return tomorrow. For now we’ll head back into town to get a good nights sleep and fill our stomachs. After all, our Eco World trip doesn’t officially start until the 1st September so we can justify leaving the tent in the car for 1 night!
We soon find a nice little hotel. I love the fact that the Portuguese are insistent on showing you the rooms before you decide to stay. Then we find an Amazing little Italian, with the scrummiest of Pizza’s and decent Chianti to boot. We end the day with our first Eco action, recycling our plates and glasses and head back to the hotel wondering what tomorrow will have in store for us.