Leaving Paradise…

(The fort from the castle walls at Castro Marim)

And then we had to leave… leave the beach, the 6am walks, the sea glass, the heat – no we didn’t have to leave the heat, it is hot everywhere at the moment. We travelled to the border town of Castro Marim. We were here before. It has a big fort and old town walls. And a grand big supermarket.

(The castle walls. I feel very safe up here. Can’t see anything though…)

We parked in the huge car park at the grand big supermarket and settled down for the day. I went to buy provisions for lunch. It was really, really hot but the breeze was strong. By nightfall we were reconsidering the whole “strong breezes are good” thinking. The wind shook us and the bicycles in the back all through the night. By morning we were in need of a good night’s sleep.

(Some lovely lichen)

Truth is we are leaving more than the beach, we are leaving The Algarve and taking our first steps home. From now on we will park for a night and move along in the morning. I think the wind is upset for us. It will take three more weeks but this is the beginning of our journey home.

(Flowering tree)

Ruby (the motorhome) was upset too but we didn’t know that until we were driving along the motorway out of Castro Marim. Even though the wind had died down she was still shaking. This was not good. We would have to find a garage. Memories of last year, in the small village of Moncarapacho, very close to here where we had to wait for two weeks to get the clutch fixed, came rushing back. The atmosphere was tense.


There was nowhere to stop on the road and have a look. Also, what were we looking for? So we kept going. But I wondered if staying in the Algarve with all the tourist facilities might be our best option. At the time we were heading for a parking spot in the middle of nowhere. We kept going. When we arrived there was no one there. We knew it cost €5 and last time we were there it was almost full. Where was everyone?

(The salt fields at Castro Marim)

Denis took a quick look around the van, no puncture, nothing hanging underneath, no clue. Decision time. My choice was the Algarve, Denis’ Beja. He was driving… Three years ago we found the town of Beja and fell in love with it. We stayed for ten days in their Municipal Campsite. It was old and in need of repairs but the toilets were clean, the people were friendly and the location was perfect. But what made him think we would find a mechanic who could understand the problem and us?

(Cobblestone road inside the castle walls. Do you see the stones placed especially for cart wheels?)

Ninety minutes later we knew. Somewhere in the back of his mind Denis had a memory of a huge garage in Beja between the supermarket and McDonalds. (Three year’s ago McDonald’s WiFi was one of the best ways for him to work.) He didn’t know he remembered the garage until he saw it.

(True that)

Our mind are amazing. We have more stored in there than we know. I was choosing the Algarve because I was afraid we wouldn’t find someone to understand us anywhere else. Denis was looking for the best solution and instinctively knew it. Very useful.

Be like Denis, follow your gut, Mairead.

(Castro Marim, in the Algarve and on the border with Spain. Free parking and water. Nice town, restaurants, cafes, castle walls, fort and grand supermarket.)