May 12, Around Ponte das Tres Entradas

Sheila's malady has returned. After her morning ablutions she had to sleep on the bench seat before feeling well enough for breakfast. While Sheila slept, I explored our camp. The morning was crisp, fresh, and quiet, the only sound, that of water trickling over the stone weir, a few bird songs, and the light rustle of leaves in the gentle breeze. The graceful arches of the bridge reflected in the still waters above the weir, and the bridge and roads were traffic free. Our strange monkish pruner had gone, leaving behind his tent and pruning debris. After breakfast Sheila felt well enough to do a little exploring so we crossed the bridge and followed the N342 downstream to the picturesque little town of Avô on the Rio Alva.  An elegant single arch supported the high stone bridge spanning the rocky gorge at the north edge of town. An intimate church standing at the north end of the bridge provided for the spiritual needs of the community and led to an overview of the river below the gorge, an island park, and another, less elegant, multi-arched stone bridge. At the edge of town, in the shade of the riverbank, damp and slippery stairs led from a narrow abandoned passage to an old storage room cut into the river bank and a stone walkway, its stone retaining wall glistening with seepage and draped with ferns. Foot bridges connected a small island park to the two banks of the Alva. A patch of natural forest, a pavilion, artificial beaches, manicured lawns, walkways, and a spectacular upriver view of the gorge and bridge provided something for nearly everyone. Despite it amenities, devoid of people the park felt lifeless and a large bright blue Nestles corporation flag flying from a tall flag- pole in the middle of the park was a little jarring. Terraced gardens stepping down to the river on the north bank were more interesting. A villager using a hand hoe cut irrigation furrows into the soil, dipped a large plastic bucket into a cistern and hand watered his plots. Returning to the van, we skirted the town on the M513, passing three locals sitting at a small streetside cafe. We followed the Pomares, tributary to  the Alva, upstream to the pleasant but uninspiring village of Pomares. Needing to restock the galley, we returned through Alva, passing the same three gentlemen at the cafe. Rural roads climbed past small hand cultivated garden plots hidden in the hills, onto the plateau, and on to Oliveira do Hospital. Our return route from shopping crossed the plateau and passed through agricultural fields and then descended through Pine forest, then Cypress, then Sycamore, then Poplar progress- ing down the steep slopes to clear river waters. Crisp white walled, red roofed villages decor- ated the landscape, often perched on precipitous faces or straddling rivers and streams linked by the stone arches of old bridges. Tile roofs fallen in and walls crumbling, long abandoned farm homes moldered and decayed. Untended stone retaining walls collapsed and the terraces they supported were disappearing. Others still firm, showed rich dark soil or the succulent green of new growth. Other farms still prospered and the quaint, often picturesque homes were well maintained. Back at camp, our strange monkish pruner returned around 6:00 pm, packed up his tent, and left.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map Pont das Tres Entradas reflected in the still waters of Alva. Church at Avo on the Rio Alva A damp, slippery stairway led to stone ledge along the river. The gorge view from the park. Men socialized over coffee at a streetside cafe. In areas, the old  rural lifestyle was still seemed viable.

May 12, Around Ponte das Tres Entradas

Sheila's malady has returned. After her morning ablutions she had to sleep on the bench seat before feeling well enough for breakfast. While Sheila slept, I explored our camp. The morning was crisp, fresh, and quiet, the only sound, that of water trickling over the stone weir, a few bird songs, and the light rustle of leaves in the gentle breeze. The graceful arches of the bridge reflected in the still waters above the weir, and the bridge and roads were traffic free. Our strange monkish pruner had gone, leaving behind his tent and pruning debris. After breakfast Sheila felt well enough to do a little exploring so we crossed the bridge and followed the N342 downstream to the picturesque little town of Avô on the Rio Alva.  An elegant single arch supported the high stone bridge spanning the rocky gorge at the north edge of town. An intimate church standing at the north end of the bridge provided for the spiritual needs of the community and led to an overview of the river below the gorge, an island park, and another, less elegant, multi- arched stone bridge. At the edge of town, in the shade of the riverbank, damp and slippery stairs led from a narrow abandoned passage to an old storage room cut into the river bank and a stone walkway, its stone retaining wall glistening with seepage and draped with ferns. Foot bridges connected a small island park to the two banks of the Alva. A patch of natural forest, a pavilion, artificial beaches, manicured lawns, walkways, and a spectacu- lar upriver view of the gorge and bridge provided something for nearly everyone. Despite it amen- ities, devoid of people the park felt lifeless and a large bright blue Nestles corporation flag flying from a tall flagpole in the middle of the park was a little jarring. Ter- raced gardens stepping down to the river on the north bank were more interesting. A villa- ger using a hand hoe cut irrigation furrows into the soil, dipped a large plastic bucket into a cistern and hand watered his plots. Returning to the van, we skirted the town on the M513, passing three locals sitting at a small streetside cafe. We followed the Pomares, tributary to  the Alva, upstream to the pleasant but uninspiring village of Pomares. Needing to restock the galley, we returned through Alva, passing the same three gentlemen at the cafe. Rural roads climbed past small hand cultivated garden plots hidden in the hills, onto the plateau, and on to Oliveira do Hospital. Our return route from shopping crossed the plateau and passed through agricultural fields and then descended through Pine forest, then Cypress, then Sycamore, then Poplar pro- gressing down the steep slopes to clear river waters. Crisp white walled, red roofed villages decorated the landscape, often perched on pre- cipitous faces or straddling rivers and streams linked by the stone arches of old bridges. Tile roofs fallen in and walls crumbling, long aban- doned farm homes moldered and decayed. Untended stone retaining walls collapsed and the terraces they supported were disappearing. Others still firm, showed rich dark soil or the succulent green of new growth. Other farms still prospered and the quaint, often pic- turesque homes were well maintained. Back at camp, our strange monkish pruner returned around 6:00 pm, packed up his tent, and left.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map Pont das Tres Entradas reflected in the still waters of Alva. A damp, slippery stairway led to stone ledge along the river. The gorge view from the park. Men socialized over coffee at a streetside cafe. In areas, theold  rural lifestyle was still seemed viable.