Pedalling Portugal – An ending

The rain is smattering the windows and the roof like an explosion of rocks let loose on the world. And I am smiling. I am glad not to be cycling, drops hitting my face and covering me with an unending layer of water. I stand there, thinking of my wet tent packed away and the deafening attacks of the rain in the middle of the night, waking me up with a start before lulling me back to sleep, the only sound in the world around my safe cocoon. But this is a thing of the past. For now, for the next few days I am in a house.

My panniers are wide open, their content a sprawling mess dripping down to the floor from their opening. The kitchen is filled with so many pots and pans I’m not sure what to do with them all. There is an oven too, a kettle, and a coffee machine. It’s all a bit overwhelming, too easy after three months of a disassembled one-pot kitchen. But it feels good too.

I don’t have to do a thing. I’m at my dad’s home in France, ordered to take a break. I am pleased to oblige, watch reruns of old TV shows, read for hours on the sofa, eat good food, and watch the rain fall without getting wet. But best of all is the familiarity of life here. When I’m out, when I’m cycling, when I’m in, when I’m resting, I know where things are, I know where to go, I know what to say, and I can have conversations without struggling for the words and even share a joke or two. But I am not home. I am only in known territory.

Home is still miles away, in a town I don’t really know. It’s an idea, something that has whirled in my mind for hours on the road. I wasn’t sure if I needed a home back then. Why would I restrict myself to one place when I can have the road and people alongside it? But weeks turned into months and my thoughts wandered away from the tarmac and dirt under my wheels. They stretched to the UK, to my family there, to my friends, to the community I had built and lost. And I yearned for it all. Saudade, the Portuguese would say, the love that remains.

I wasn’t sad nor lost. But my heart split somewhere after of Lisbon. I was in Portugal, caressed by the salty winds of the coast and wrapped in the fragrant smell of the mountain’s eucalyptuses. I was in the UK sharing a meal with friends surrounded by laughter and the gentle touch of my partner. And no matter how hard I tried, I could not pull myself back into the here and now. It had been lost somewhere along the way, in Alentejo I suspect, where my thoughts had had no concept of the future. But then I had arrived in Lisbon and north of it a built-up world filled with echoes of my settled life.

Now I find myself in France, between a dream realised and a future yet to become. I am cycling between family and friends, taking trains and being picked up whenever time runs too short or I get fed up with the rain. It feels like the last summer before university. I hang around and do nothing, actively wasting time, and am cajoled by family. If the sun was out, I would lie for hours on the soft green grass, rich with flowers and not yet scorched by the August sun. Instead I doze off on the plump sofa, the rain a gentle tap of fingertips on the roof above.

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Pedalling Portugal has began since March 2016. For more information about this trip, visit this page.

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13 thoughts on “Pedalling Portugal – An ending

    • It felt like a crossroad πŸ™‚ And a good one too. I’m now mostly excited for what’s to come and enjoying the rest between a new beginning.
      I hope the sun is staying around. Since yesterday afternoon, it seems to be making a comeback in France (but if the weather people can be believed it won’t last too long).

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Good to hear from you, as always. Do you think you’ll make some record of your pedalling adventure? I’d love to read more, see photos, hear sounds, whatever you feel like sharing!

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    • I’ll definitely share more about this adventure. I have thousands of photos, hours of sounds, and many many words in my diairies, not to mention all the memories in my head πŸ™‚

      It’s going to take a little while to sort through all this material but I have a few plans for them. Hopefully they’ll all start to unfold soon (I’m hoping to be able to got through my photos later this week – everything is still on SD cards).

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  2. A beautiful post as always. Dave seems to have hit the nail on the head; life is a journey, even when you’re not moving! I’m so excited to be following along, and happy that you had a break from being out in the rain. I love the outdoors, but the weather definitely gets to mm after awhile!

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  3. Hey Allysee, how are you? Sorry for the random message. I’m currently on my Thames Swim and we are stuck for a place to stay in the Teddington /Kew area on the 25th and 26th of August. I remember you saying you lived near there? Do you have a parking space we could potentially leave our car and caravan? Or know any sports clubs or churches or car parks nearby that might be able to let us stay there?

    Thanks so much in advance, Chris x

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    • Hello πŸ™‚

      Sadly I’m away from London at the minute… Have you found somewhere to stay?
      I’m thinking in Kew there’s the Botanical Gardens. They have a car park right by the Thames. I can’t remember if they have a barrier there or not but it might be worth checking out.
      As I don’t drive, I find it a bit tricky to think of places to park on top of my head… By the Kew Gardens station there’s plenty of space too but I have doubt as whether or not you’d be allowed to stay the night. But you might want to ask the local shop there. They’re usually very friendly and can probably help you out.
      I’m sorry this is not the best of help. I do hope you’ll manage to find somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No problem. Managed to find somewhere πŸ™‚ Thanks for all the help though, and sorry I didnt reply sooner. We ended up staying at Thames Young Marinas near Teddington lock, my kayaker had worked there before.

        Thanks for the help πŸ™‚

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