Beja: The Promised Land


(We got a map, Lar!)

We’ve been in a bit of a wilderness. Still on our journey south, in search of warm air and bright skies. From time to time we find them. Then we can’t find a place to stay… We found both in Beja, a very old town in the Alentejo region of Portugal. That (very big) region stretches between the Atlantic sea and Spain and from above the north-east of Lisbon to the Algarve.

Portugal Mine Village

(Oranges growing by the path in the mine village!)

Being in the wilderness has had some surprising bonuses, but first some surprising downsides… We found a great camper van parking area in Grandola (it’s west of Beja, if you’re plotting our journey, Sally – btw in primary school we used to plot the routes of huge cargo ships travelling the world) within walking distance of a big supermarket (where they sold Kerrygold cheese… we didn’t even know there was such a thing) on one side and a small town on the other. All was well until six am when the truck drivers arrived to start their day. Trucks make a very loud noise when they start up. They were all gone by the time we were having breakfast.

Beja Street

(Street in Beja)

The following night we thought we had the perfect spot, a camper van car park near an old mine museum, closed when we arrived but would be open in the morning. To add to its attractiveness there were two other campers parked when we arrived. It was in the middle of nowhere surrounded by farmland, roads too potholed for big trucks, perfect. Well… it had just got dark when Jimmy (name changed) arrived, I thought he was from one of the other campers but it turned out he was a down on his luck Dutchman needing the train fare to Lisbon… He didn’t like Anchovies but he had some ham and cheese instead.

Beja House Tiles

(Lots of houses have tiles on the outside)

Then we arrived in Beja. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, the reviews of the site were not glowing. But I needn’t have worried. There are toilets with toilet paper and soap and paper towels. There’s electricity. There are no trucks. There is no sign of Jimmy. The main bonus of travelling through the wilderness is that on the other side you are so happy when the basics are covered. The wilderness has lowered our expectations. I was wondering why that was a good thing and I think it’s because our expectations force us to fulfil them. If we don’t fill them then we are dissatisfied….

Even if we already have enough of everything, Mairead.

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