Everyone dreams of Shangri-La; a place of tranquillity, harmony and interminable rest. A secret haven cut from among the modern-day capitalist hustle and grind. Where life is slow, people are friendly and the food — Muito Bom. And though dreams are but a fictional illusion stimulated by the subconscious mind, as it appears they somehow do come true.
I realised this whilst vacating in Albufeira, Portugal. Though at first, I was misled by some overzealous tourists whom persuaded me to go and fulfil my half-hearted hedonistic urges at the infamous strip in New Town, Albufeira. I was quickly driven away from there when I realised that it didn’t live up to its reputation.
With my quasi cure I was filled with adventure. Though a taxi trip would have been quick, cheap and safe. I decided the following day to trek a few miles with the aid of Google maps to Praia Da Falesia, one of the longest beaches in Portugal.
Now lost and fearing falling from a cliff edge to my death or been wrangled by rabid stray dogs on abandoned farms, or even worse, been arrested by the Portuguese police (enforcement outside the UK are more ominous) for trespassing on another man’s villa. A taxi fare would have definitely been more preferred.
Following all these exaggerated odds against me, I eventually made it to Praia Da Falesia. It was exactly what I expected. Golden sands that stretch for miles against sandstone cliffs overlooking the Ocean. It was beautiful; however, a beach will always be a beach to me. I still yearned for more. I left the beach and followed a dirt trail up to the top of a cliff east of Praia Da Falesia.
From the clearing of the cliff appeared Olhos De Agua. It stood idyllic under the golden glow of the setting sun dipping below the horizon. The palm trees blow gently in the light breeze and the ambience is serenely romantic. By the €10 all you can eat fish restaurants and cafés that double for bars in the evening, vacationers and locals stroll in couples. On the beach, two fisher men work on a boat in front of the other antiquated boats. Their colours — worn out, reflecting the years of toiling against the Atlantic waves.
I stood and appreciated the scenery for a while before capturing it on my camera and freezing the moment in time. The following day without hesitation I trekked back to Olhos De Agua only to serendipitously stumble upon an old fisherman with his line, fishing by the rock pools at low tide.
He was lost in a meditative and nostalgic state. Reminiscing a time when he tamed the ocean and demanded of it to give him of its bounty that he might have his livelihood, but all that time is lost in the past. Man, most age and youth is squandered by times regimental forward hand.
The fisherman giving up the long and enduring task of fishing, he will have nothing to do with it again. He sits on a rock watching the perpetual horizon. The gargantuan seagulls play in the sky above and the repetitive crash of the turquoise wave on the shore foaming before him and returning to the ocean, the same scenery, the same sound, nothing has changed but the body.
Surely, this momentary quarrel will end. The old fisherman will return again to his lover and she will continue to love him and to give him of her bounty. And so will he with the rest of his remaining time in Olhos De Agua – a home from within.