Ribeira da Barroca

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    • Day 82

      Grand Roto de Zezére

      April 20, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

      Bike touring on a mountain bike trail.
      Marty asked for a time map of when we are meeting my parents, and he looked at me dumfounded when I replied "in three weeks". We have been "on the road" for four days, and it feels like we have been going for weeks as we are getting in the groove  We are actually bike touring.  We left from Lisboa on Friday last week, took the train 150km to Tomar, and then rode our bikes 34km to San Domingos.   The weather was still a bit cold and rainy, so we stayed for three nights in snug beds with a fireplace in Joao's grandparents house.  Marty felt a bit like he was in the Zombie apocalypse, as there is no one around.  Like many villages in rural Portugal (and rural anywhere), young people leave for the cities, and only the old folks are left.  As the last generation dies off, people keep up the family houses and use them as vacation homes.  In San Domingos, we ordered dinner from the cook at the Bernardino Cafe (Joan's Uncles cafe), and she cooked us up a portugese feast.  The bread van came each morn.

      It was a big first day on leaving Sao Domingos and we biked about 50 km.  We didn't intend to, but we biked to a town to get food, and then left town looking for a camp, and were near to the river, just a few hundred feet above it.  We asked for water in a village, and filled a 6L bottle we had found and camped on a logging road in a eucalyptus plantation.  Our small fire was mindful of the blackened woods we had biked through.  The fires last year were widespread and deadly, with flames roaring across valleys and wiping out farms and trapping villagers.  People have shown us pictures of the flames rising above the church spires.  The original mediteranean forests of cork and oak were replanted with pine forests, and within the last 50 years the fast growing eucalyptus forests have been planted and harvested making up 10% of Portugal's export.  So you can imagine that it is a bit of a debate, to keep growing the eucalyptus  (which also suck the water and nutrients faster than other species), or go back to pine and less fire hazard.  We can tell you that there is not information out there about where the fires have been.  Do not tell the tourists where it is black, is an agreed upon principle. 

      Subsequent travel days did not include 50 km.  They did however involve finding a campsite too late in the day, being tired with a BIG hill as our last event, riding up endless hills, leaving the perfect campsite too late in the day, and finding a fabulous trail system, The Grand Roto Zezere, along a river.  The villages along this part of the river have many Xisto (Schist) built houses, modern and ancient that are incredible. Areas that were burned reveal unbelievable old rock walls terracing on hillsides. Yesterday we biked 20km, in addition to a few km of detours, and our last 5km were along an old dirt mining road above the river.   We camped in the dark and quiet (we are usually near a village of some sort and hear the dogs and church bells in the night) had a fire and clambered down to the river for a gaspingly cold swim.

      In all, we are enjoying our travel.  Although we have not bike toured before, we know how to camp, and how to bike, and how to fix bikes, and go on multiday hikes.  We got off the train in Tomar, asked each other which direction we should go, and headed off, hoping for the best.  Marty has accepted that there are few animals, or fish, and has consoled himself with the old villages.  Caleb has stopped telling us he wants to go home, and Jorja is her regular happy self, chatting away in strange languages as she turbo charges Marty's bike. I have to admit, I was exhilarated that my dream of bike touring with my family 30 years after I had bike toured with my family, is actually happening.  Jorja has flowers on her handlebars, and wears a pink dress while biking.  We find wifi for Caleb so he can connect to friends, and Marty drinks cheap white around the occassional fire, and I am thrilled when Caleb calls out "I think the old girl is trying to beat me up this hill" and then promptly overtakes me.    
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    • Day 83

      Caleb wrote this ...ALL

      April 21, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

      Caleb: At first I disliked Europe and what we were doing (Bike touring) ,but after 3 days of 35 k each my butt ache and legs stopped hurting so bad. Now in total we have done 140 k (don’t try and add up the numbers cuz they don’t add up;) I have mostly liked camping in the mountains/hills because there are zero .0.0.0. People to bother me,it’s a vast world when we trek through the burnt areas of Portugal. Me and my dad figure that all the residents have a rule not to tell tourists where the fire was , if u have no clue what I am talking about there was a fire that went through almost all of Portugal ! Killing 100 people... well I’ll wrap it up soooo I miss am my friends sooooooo much. Byeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!Read more

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