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J60 - Tuesday, December 15: Casa Branca – Intersection N384/N255 – 5km before Alqueva

75.31km – 9H54’
Altitude 270m
Since we left Villa Franca we are seeing posters which announce « Touradas, » bullfights, where the matador is on horseback and is called “cavaleiro”.  Men on foot tire the bull with their capes, and then the “cavaleiro” plants his barbed darts in the beast.  Another difference from the Spanish bullfights is that the animal is not killed in the ring in front of the spectators.  Generally speaking it does not survive its injuries and is slaughtered the next day.
On another subject, the glazed ceramic tiles called « Azulejos » are a national art form which entered the Iberian Peninsula with the Arabs.  As you have seen in our photos, and finds them everywhere: on the front of houses, on fountains, on public benches, the street names, on train stations, on churches and of course one sees them on historic monuments and palaces.
When we woke up we were happy to see our « Dupondt » alive and dressed to face the cold.  This time they were prepared for the situation and Joël was even too warm during the night, when the temperature descended to -5°C and at 6:00 AM the water left in our bowls was frozen.  After a good night, the conversation wandered: “Between the two of us and Serge our total age equals 176 years”.  I will add that it’s in old pots that you make good soup!
The landscape is magnificent this morning.  The hoar frost and the soft light calms us and Serge is in a contemplative mood: “have you seen the cactus?, have you seen the storks?, have you seen the number of lambs?, have you seen that sign?…. And yes guys, we aren’t going to Evora, but that’s for a laugh because Serge “follows” his crew, eyes closed, and luckily after 1km René notices this switching mistake!
Pastures are still surrounded by barbed wire and there are stands of cork oaks.  The region of Alentejo is the biggest producer of cork in the world.  Animals graze on the beautiful green grass in these pastures. From the road today, we don’t see any crops planted.  Before Portel, olive trees appear again and they abound when we reach the town by way of the Tras-Os-Montes region.  It appears that we are leaving the country with the lovely persistent leaves.
Cities and towns are located on promontories.  The church and the remains of a castle and/or fortifications watch over the white walled houses with red-orange tile roofs.  Due to this, we can see all the villages around us, sometimes from as much as 10 km away.
Peu de circulation sur cette route transversale entre Evora et Beja, un véritable plaisir !
Last night Serge said his right gluteal muscles hurt, but generally speaking he complains very little and not at all to his support team.  He goes from day to day and sometimes from one minute to the next in a state of euphoria and talkative good humor about his inner most thoughts, most often when he finds time long, when the road is dangerous or if he is in pain….
There is little traffic on this road which crosses between Evora and Beja, it’s a real pleasure!

Town : 5km avant Alqueva

GPS : N°38.24647° W007.58388°