Saturday, June 5, 2010

A road trip

Mértola, 38 km north of Alcoiutim on the Guadiana is in the province of Alentejo (a well known good wine production area). It is hazardeous to reach it with our boats, so thanks to Mo, our new friend resident on the Guadiana shores, we drove through the steep hills and deserted landscape. We all got in his van for a little discovery trip. with Andreas, Swedish first met in Falsterbo who just came with his boat to Alcoutim. Since Antiquity, the area was already well known for minerals and for its prime location along the river. The Romans had established a good base at Mértola as show important ruins close to the Moorish forteress. The little village has been a very impressive settlement dominating the narrow valley since the pre Roman era. The Moors took over and the islamic culture left its trace even nowdays, some islamic holidays are still celebrated. Farther in the Alantejo where a torrid and dry wind sweeps the smoother hills, we go see the Minas Santo Domingo. The mines were closed in 1943. Exploited since the Romans, it is now a open wound in the landscape. The region is ruined by the acidic mineral deposit. The little village where the miners lived is still surviving among the remains of the mine and the acidic small artificial lakes with their bare and unhealthy shores. Far from the coast and its often clashy tourist traps, there is a lot to discover if what you want to see is the Portugal which still belongs to the Portugueses. Few tourists go deep in the country, and even fewer cruisers who prefer the security of the English speaking costal towns and marinas.  Well they miss a lot, but we surely do not miss them around us !!