Portugal: time slips away and skin scars. 

I’m in Portugal, most possibly the last stop on this great ride I’ve been on. I’m staying near Odeciexe, a beautiful little cobbled town with white buildings and shops selling clothes for hippies and travellers. Portugal is full of travellers it seems. I love it. It feels like you’re part of a community, transient, full of joy and wanting and carrying no expectations. Different accents ring out from people as they walk by you or stand in line before you and order their beers. The retreat I now call home is owned by a Dutch man and there is a big Dutch community always coming and going and it’s nice to hear a language of hushes and clucks. 

It’s so incredibly peaceful here. The only distraction comes infrequently and is the sound of a fellow workawayer’s speakers playing only baselines through her rucksack as she walks around. I won’t pretend I enjoy the sound of a heavy engine when I’m sat feeling still. There’s a border to how much stillness I need however, and despite this being super chill and letting me tune in to myself more, I sometimes miss hustle and bustle. I look forward to Lisbon.  

My jobs so far have been vegetable harvesting, preparing breakfast for the guests, cleaning apartments and yurts and shovelling up donkey shit. That was my least favourite task. I enjoy chilling out in the yurt, making it look all nice and tidy and making people smile when you serve them fresh pot of coffee and some freshly squeezed oj. I love harvesting fresh organic veg from the garden on a morning, seeing fruits and vegetables change each day, ripen and ready and sweeten as they gain their colour. 

It’s here that I’ve first worked with donkeys. It’s the first place on the trip I’ve camped. It’s the first place I’ve hitchhiked. And the first place I have been solely responsible for guests. It’s been the first place I’ve had a working day to take part in a peaceful protest. All good experiences. 

This is also the place I’ve had my first medical ‘situation’. I developed impetigo which has knocked me down when I was right at the top and made me feel lower than I have in months. I must remember that this awful skin thing has brought me many new adventures, both physically and emotionally (in confidence and acceptance).  It’s been pretty awful but I’m trying to see the positives – two adventures – one through the cobbled streets of town to the doctors surgery and one to Sao Teotonia to collect my prescription and do some shopping with the guys who drove me to the chemist. It’s also made me incredibly vulnerable which has brought out the soft side to most people here – everyone has been so kind and caring. I’ve gained a new perspective of people who have skin conditions and am incredibly grateful that this should only be temporary. Medical situations are the thing I want to avoid the most on this whole trip. Not being bitten is a thing I’m most looking forward to going home for. 

I’m feeling better since going out yesterday and realising that no one cares about what my face looks like other than me. These girls helped a lot:

All of this time and space is certainly making me look inward. I’m not sure I like it, but through these situations, we grow. Right? I’ve definitely discovered some things about myself here I had been keeping wrapped up and faced some confidence crises at times (mainly due to my skin) that I’m proud of working to get past. I’ve realised a lot of things through long conversations with Sarah and Ellen that I will be forever grateful for. This is a special place, with special people.

Having all the time and space is also making me aware that I’m ready for the next adventure – home and routine for 5 months. I think I am getting ready to go “home”, build some permanent bridges and lose the beer belly. Finally. 

It’s amazing. I feel like I have come full circle. How lucky I am. 

More on Portugal to come when I’m feeling 100%. 


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