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What forest is this?

Like sap, we rise up through the four layers of a forest. We progress from the bureaucrats in state institutions to experts who are passionate about the forest. Let’s move from the Dantesque vision of the current ‘eucalyptugal’ to the landscape of the lush forest that is to come.   The ground layer It’s called Quinta da Fonteireira, in Belas, and it is a rare green lung in the suburbs along the Sintra railway line. Between the ages of eight and eighteen, I slept more than a hundred nights there, in Vale Escuro. At that time, when I was in …

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DAY 6
Salir – Cortelha – Barranco do Velho

DAY 6
Salir – Cortelha – Barranco do Velho

Right, the first one hundred kilometres are behind me. It’s turning out to be easier than I’d envisaged; after all, I’m hiking without previous training. The advantage compensating this lack of training is that I know the trail well and that I’m walking slowly, building up my physical form. The entire stretch of the Via Algarviana runs to around 300 kilometres. You have the first, the eastern part, from Alcoutim to Barranco do Velho, the central section from Barranco do Velho to Monchique and the westerly part from Monchique to the southwestern cape. I pack my backpack, take my hiking …

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DAY 5
From Alte to Salir. Moorish Fountains.

DAY 5
From Alte to Salir. Moorish Fountains.

19 km. I’ve now arrived in the heart of the Algarve. To be journeying on foot also means to gain direct contact with the people and their environment. And isn’t that what we journalists need and want to know? What makes the people of this country tick? What are they thinking, and: how are they? In Alte, right at the beginning of the fifth day of my hike I meet an elderly lady collecting a little brushwood at the empty and dried-out Ribeira de Alte, a brook which used to be home to fish and many other wildlife, a biotope …

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DAY 4
From Messines to Alte

DAY 4
From Messines to Alte

  I order my breakfast from next door. The price is 2 euros and forty cents and it’s eight o’clock when I hand over the key at reception and walk across to Senhor Jorge. One hot milky coffee and a cheese roll please. Bom dia. Two minutes later everything is standing on the counter and I take my breakfast outside onto the terrace. Messines has already woken up and I am studying the way ahead on the map. Aiming for the Vale Vinagre I am soon starting my small ascent. First of all out of town and through the underpass …

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DAY 3
From Funcho Reservoir Lake to Messines.

São Bartolomeu de Messines is the town associated with the writer, educator and legal expert João de Deus Ramos, who was born here in 1830 and went on to gain nation-wide fame at the time with his educational programme for children and adults. He studied law in Coimbra and died in 1896 in Lisbon. This is what I read when I reach the Casa do Povo, the House of the People. Carved in stone. I might be wrong but I’m under the impression that Messines wants to be more than just one of seven communities forming part of the former …

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DAY 2
From Silves to Lake Funcho

DAY 2
From Silves to Lake Funcho

Waking up, I turn on the light and find myself in a 45-euro room in a guesthouse that will accept my dog: the landlady is charging five euros extra for the privilege. I don’t receive a reply to my question whether this includes breakfast or not. But bringing pets, she says, is allowed in principle. So I’m using the remote control to consult the comrade on the corner up where the wall and the ceiling of the room meet, to call up the weather forecast. No change in sight. It will remain hot and dry. Fabulous weather for tourists, bad …

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Nº 123 – Ana Pêgo and the unsustainable weight of marine pollution

Saturday 22th January 2022. “People hear the problem, they get scared faced with this problem and do want to change, but end up considering that it’s very hard and they won’t be able to do it.” It’s to counter this way of thinking that marine biologist Ana Pêgo works to raise awareness for ocean protection in communities. At the end of the day, change is within reach for each and any one of us. Step by step, we can all be agents of change. Known for being a woman on a mission, Ana the biologist sees marine waste as a …

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Epilogue – In the South: Journeying on foot

One early morning on my Algarve trail I keep thinking about a dream, a story I‘d still like to tell here. The dream is about a group of young people who in their village along the trail start planting a small tree, then a second, a third… They agree that every day they will plant another tree together along the trail’s edge, so that those still young trees may, one fine day day in the future, when these trees have grown to be tall and strong, provide shade and offer up free fruit to their children and their children’s children. …

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In the South: Journeying on foot
DAY 1 – Thirst – an unexpectedly great one

DAY 1 – Thirst – an unexpectedly great one

On a Sunday in October in this warm and dry year, at the tail end of a summer that shows no signs of wanting to end, I pull the door shut behind me, lock it, shoulder my backpack and start walking east, with my dog for company. I‘ve taken a week‘s time out for myself: a week with no computers, a life without Internet. In reality I want to take the track starting right behind my house, a trail leading into nature or, well, what is left of it after the great forest fire of 2018. After a few kilometres …

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On the Road to Nowhere

To Be or to Have, that too is the question here. Renault is celebrating its 122nd anniversary. What is there to celebrate exactly? Three stories come to my mind, completely different ones. The first is this: a seven-year old boy is hit by a car. The child, as noted in the police report, wanted to cross the street with his scooter at a pedestrian crossing. On doing so, the boy is hit by the car of a 48-year old driver. In the accident on Sunday evening the seven-year old was dragged along several metres by the car and was later …

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