Saturday, 8 September 2007

Josh - Returning to Our Roots

With our new photos and more experience about handling our camera we now have photos for every occasion.

After finding out a couple of years ago that my mum’s great-great-great grandmother was Portuguese we decided it would be like going home again. We drove through Galicia – the last “county” before Portugal – stopping off and taking long walks for Spanish “passagiata” (I still think Italian passagiate have a lot more vibe) or going for trips specifically (or as Ellie would say it: pacifically) for photos we eventually took our last look back at Spain before entering Portugal. We were driving down the road and dad suddenly decided to pull over next to a cafĂ© – one which thought that hot chocolate was a chocolate drink warmed up - 200ft from the border. Ellie and I ran to the border to see who would enter Portugal first. I won obviously but decided to take a rest under the border. Eventually dad drove on and the landscape changed dramatically. Although Portugal is pretty flat (the highest point being 2000m, 7m of it being a statue, the lowest point being well under sea level) mountains were springing up everywhere!

We drove through to a little town and decided to stay there a couple of nights out side a bumper car pitch, result. The first thing we did was go to the estate agency. We were gob smacked. Almost all the houses were under 100,000€! We found one house with 18 hectares of land that was under 75,000€ called Moses. I’ll tell the truth, I have been a bit unfair to Portugal but I have an excuse which, I think, is a rather good one. We came into Portugal and all we have seen is amazing, the beaches, the towns and the houses. I love Portugal just as much as anyone else but the thing is, it is almost too perfect. Also Italy felt like home to me, sure there’s some Portuguese in me but Italy is just so……random. Of course nobody else understands a word that I’m saying. Portugal has got this; Portugal has got that, which I understand. Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to be moany but that’s how I feel. I know I say this about everywhere but if you ever have a chance to go to anywhere in Portugal (I recommend Porto just remember your walking boots. We heard that Lisbon is steeper) or even travel it - like my grandma and grandpa have done lots of times – do.

Ok enough moaning and mourning lets get to the happy part and (I hope) the funny part. Everywhere we’ve been has been so lush, so green, and so full of colour; the mountains the towns even the cities, which are becoming a huge problem in global warming all over the world (there are 10,300,000 people in Portugal. 10,300,000 is the amount of people who live in London), are beautiful. Everyone is so happy so joyous with that which life has given them, everyone knowing that life will give them what is best for them which is hard to imagine in a city. I for one, and I know I speak for many people when I say this (I’ve been reading waaaaaaaaaaaay too many books), have been inspired by the people who are happy with their lives in all the places I’ve been. In Italy: be free and happy. Live life and love it because if you are not you will feel locked up and grumpy (also EAT GOOD FOOD OR ELSE!). In Spain: let nothing bring you down mentally or physically because if you are happy your mind body and soul will be happy too. In Portugal: smile even when the sun is not shining because life will do what is best for you. In Barbados: chill man. The lord has given ya whatcha need bwoy. Ya don’ need any more dan dat. In Africa as a whole from what I’ve seen: make use of what you got while you got it because it might disappear before you know it. In France: Um…… Ur…… one sec…… it’s in there…… Oh yes, no matter how many bad things that happen the good things and people will be greater in mind and number. These are my views and they have helped me a lot and they all join to mean one thing…… Don’t worry, be happy, don’t worry, be happy, don’tworrybehappydon’tworrybehappydon’tworrybehappydon’tworrybehappydon’tworry you get the picture. You might think “what is he talking about! I don’t want to be free or eat good food. I am fine with being brought down. If the sun is not shining or life is not good to me I won’t smile” that’s your choice. Personally if that was me I would cower in a corner for the rest of my life but everyone has their own opinion.

One of my favourite places in Portugal is Braga, home of Bom Jesus whose commissioner was a 1.2m midget bishop. We drove into Braga and stayed in a campsite because it’s forbidden (not legally) to wild camp and you get glares when you wear swimming pants or bikinis (not so smiley now) in Portugal. We left Moses to sleep in the motorhome while we started our 3 hour walk to bom Jesus. We reached the church in 30 minutes after taking a bus and started our walk up the billions of steps. Ok my last moan, for me - carrying the camera a huge rucksack and having turned down my food for the campsite swimming pool - which I will talk about later – and having no water the 45min walk felt like 45 hours. Eventually we reached Bom Jesus for the last rays of the sun. The taxi back was like a roller coaster. If you ever find yourself at bom Jesus make sure you take a long taxi ride. We hopped in the black Mercedes and we shot off like a rocket. Within seconds it was over but the thrill was amazing. Back at the campsite I dived off the 8ft diving board without a hesitation but it took a good lot of encouraging to make me dive off the 15ft one. I did it three times in the end three times of pure agony.

My all time picture perfect place in Portugal is Porto. It is beautiful. There are no other words to describe it. Be-a-u-ti-ful. The gushing river, multi coloured houses, billions bookshops and cobble streets, a photographers dream, that is Porto. We roamed around (more like sprinted because dad always sets the pace at 6kmph) looking at everything. I would love to see how Porto will be in 10 years time. We met a guy who spoke English who said that Porto has changed dramatically in the last ten years. It is the same all over the world. The world is changing and being destroyed at the same.

We have now found a little spot to stay for the night. Ellie is annoying dad, dad is cooking, mummy is warning Ellie, Moses is sleeping outside and I’m peacefully writing this on mummy and dads bed.

I’m just going to check the check list. Am I relaxed? Yes. Do I love life? Yes. Are my soul, mind and body happy? Yes. Am I content with life and have I got a smile on my face? Yes. Am I chilled? Yes m’lion. Am I using what I got? Of course. What’s the ratio of bad and annoying things to good and helpful things? 1:4 (Ellie: dad, mummy, Moses, god). Am I worrying? What a stupid question. Am I happy? Yes. Living life and…… well, you know the rest.

My Favourite Places in Southern Europe (so far)
1. Rimbochi, Tuscany, Italy
2. Porto, Portugal
2. Giverney, France
3. Basilicata, Italy
4. San Sebastian, Spain
5. Alberobello, Puglia, Italy
6. Mt. Etna, 3000m, Sicily
7. Pyrenees, Spain France Andorra
8. Lago di Campotosto, Abruzzo, Italy
9. Paris, France
10. Braga, Portugal

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