Ouch. Walking to Lagos was a mistake. I shouldn’t have worn my ‘fashion sandals’ as my father would call them. I got back to the eco house and felt I hadn’t had a day off at all, and needed one or two more. The farm work and being outside in the sun all day makes me feel I’ve just done two hard-core dance classes back to back. All of us are wiped out, and on a few evenings have gone to our bunks ready to sleep, before realising it was only eight o’clock. We laughed at our childlike sleeping pattern, but were asleep by nine. We’ve managed to stay awake until half past ten but that was one occasion and we felt it was an achievement.
The third volunteer arrived a week ago. Lisa, a film maker from Germany who is also having trouble focussing on one of her interests. I pointed out that she doesn’t walk like a German, it must be her half Portuguese blood slowing her down. Lisa’s a good cook (she actually enjoys it), and she braids my hair, so has been a great addition. We’re planning a secret project which I will reveal in due course.
I saw a few critters this week. A vulture, its massive wingspan temporarily blocking the sun, circling up above, probably waiting for one of us, or a horse, to drop down dead. I was with Lisa at the time so felt reassured that I could probably walk faster than she can run, and so was in no imminent danger. On my walk back through the farm one evening, I saw a little owl swoop and land on a tall post. It was too dark to see its colour or markings but I stood and watched, until it flew off into the trees.
I’ve only seen one, possibly two bats so far which is surprising considering the amount of flies and clouds of flying ants. Maybe they’re all getting drunk off the agave plant and going to sleep it off. I got to ride twice in one morning this week and saw a snake slither quickly out of the way of my horse’s hooves. I also got to exercise their ex dressage horse, Megan. She is an Irish Draught, the same breed they use for the Queen’s guard, and one of the biggest horses I have ever seen. I am quite tall at 5’9″ (and a little bit), and I had to stand on a stool just to reach the stirrup. She stood on my foot yesterday but no lasting damage.
They’ve also had me practise leading a pony behind me when riding out which I really enjoyed. I felt like a cowgirl. I was on Pipoca, a very young gung-ho pony, and leading Tequila, who was particularly lazy that day and nearly pulled me off backwards twice, when we attempted to go fast up a steep hill. My long monkey arms saved me from a painful rocky tumble. I also led a five year old Russian on a ride, I was on foot, and she was on Tequila. I got a good workout that morning, running up the hill pulling Tequila along, up and down, up and down, for thirty minutes. The girl’s mother following behind us couldn’t keep up but was so thrilled with how much trotting her kid got to do, she offered to bring me anything I wanted from Lagos, and if I was cold in the eco house, she would bring blankets that afternoon. How sweet.
I’m not only looking after horses and riding horses, but eating like one too, to maintain my weight. I don’t mean eating their food, it smells nice but I’m not convinced it would taste good. I tried carob cake (we feed carob beans to the horses), it smells a little like cocoa but tastes more like prunes so was disappointing. All the pastries and cakes in that café in Lagos looked so good I bought three. Portugal has not reduced my appetite for puddings one bit. In fact I’m craving chocolate more than ever, probably just to get some energy back. Working on the fifteen acres has also given me a taste for beer, which I am drinking nearly every day at lunchtime. I can see now, why construction workers drink so much of it.
I decided to visit Salema this week, a small village which you have to pass through a lush valley to get to. I’m sat on the beach, watching beginners fall off their surf boards in the puny waves. There are dinosaur footprints in the rocks somewhere on this beach, which I need to find before the tide puts a stop to it. There’s a bus to Sagres in an hour, leaving me enough time to hunt for fossils, and get a chocolate bar.