After a bit of city life in Oporto I was ready to go back to nature and headed north to Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês. Again I realized I was ill prepared for driving. In the Braga area I got badly lost. Getting some directions in Portugues at a café didn’t help me and on top of it all I drove through the wrong lane at a toll station and had to pay 20€ as a consequence. After driving in circles for 45 minutes my anger and frustration needed to get out and I elbowed the door of my car so hard that I had a massive bruise for two weeks. After I cried a bit at a parking lot (being frustrated and desperate, not from pain), I pulled myself together and came up with another strategy. I made a detour through another city that was on my shitty map and finally made it to Gerês and the campground I had looked at before.
After this rough start I had the most amazing time in this beautiful and stunning place.
I put up my hammock in a nice spot and went to check out the reservoir of the river Homem that was just up the road. Thinking back to those moments just now, gives me a feeling of deep peace and warmth. The river is nestled in a valley. From the main road you have get a great view – the kind that makes you gasp and be deeply grateful for being able to experience this beauty. A few people were enjoying the water and I followed something that can’t be described as a path and reached a little peninsula with pine trees. Here I was all alone and recharged with a peaceful nap. The water was of a mesmerizing blue and very clear. I took a swim around the corner, took some dives from the big rocks and walked back to my spot over land – barefoot and in my bikini. This afternoon I felt absolute freedom, I felt absolute.
The sun was setting in company of some eery and strange clouds. I later learned that those clouds stemed from wild fire. At the time they were utterly fascinating and gave the sunset the most stunning colours.
The next morning – just like the ones that followed I watched the sun rise over the hills from my hammock – the best way of waking up (even though I fell back asleep and stayed “in bed” until 9). When I came back from the bathroom. My neighbours invited me for coffee. I didn’t take that but I took their company. They turned out to be some of the most amazing people I have met and we would spent most of the next two days together. They were a couple from Israel – Dahlia and Barack. Dahlia had just finished her masters in Mathmatics, they quit their appartment, brought all their stuff to friends and took off travelling with their backpacks. Dahlia earned a well-deserved rank in my mental group of Amazons. She is a powerful, independent and very smart woman who is eager to share her wisdom and joy for life. Barak impressed with his stoic calmness and grounding ways of being. They seemed to balance each other in a wonderful way. We went on a beautiful and nicely demanding hike in the hills together. They were strong hiking partners and knew how to have a good hiking lunch. We had a wonderful time. After some refreshments, namely ice cream, at a little café, we took a detour to escape the road which brought us on an old roman path. We took another detour in the village of Campo do Gerês and found a beautiful little bar – Chamadouro Bar – and a had glass of wine/beer. In the evening we cooked together and met a group of people. They were Dutch and Portuguese Astronomers and we had interesting and inspiring talks.
The next day was a slow one. I found Barak and Dahlia around noon and we decided to get a bottle of wine and hang out at the river. We had a tranquil time at the same peninsula I had enjoyed by myself. I was in aw by their sense of adventure that felt similar to my own. We jumped rocks, drank wine, exchanged thoughts and ideas and napped in the shade of the pines.
Our time together came to an end watching the Perseid meteor shower, lying on a big boulder, overlooking the beautiful Homem river valley. We had joined our fellow travellers from the Netherlands and Portugal on that boulder, who entlightened us with interesting details about the night sky and space.