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J61 - Wednesday, December 16: Intersection N384/N255 = 5km before Alqueva – Encinasola (Spain)

77.74km – 10H24’
The cloudy sky at the end of the afternoon gave way to rain during the night.  This morning’s drizzle is accompanied by warmer temperatures.  Since we left the N255 at km18 it’s like nearing the end of the world, since we have crossed only 3 villages today: Alqueva, Povao and Amareleja, before reaching the border city of Barrancos.  But there is life here, in the streets and in the primary and secondary school of Barrancos, where I go to find the municipal library, located on the 2nd floor of the school.  I went through a gate where a guardian gave me a badge and where I was welcomed by a bunch of 8 to10 year old children who called out: Hello, What’s your name? I explain that I’m looking for the library and I’m accompanied by about 10 children.  Wifi doesn’t work in the library but in the hallway it does so I sit on a bench where a few girls with laptops on their knees are surfing the web and a few 13 to14 year old boys are fooling around in the hallway.
Once we cross the border it’s Spain, the mountain and desert version of Andalusia.  Encinasola, which was visible from the heights of Barrancos, is a ghost town.  These two towns are 10km apart and can spy on each other through binoculars.  That may explain why we didn’t see any sign of customs control on either side of the border.  Two ordinary signs signal the change of territory.
At the start this morning Serge complains that his abs hurt but the discomfort goes away.  For the past few days at km 60, after 8.5 and 9 hours of race, he has had a slow down and today it takes the form of an attack of hypoglycemia.  He has no juice.  In such a case he takes a break in the van for a few minutes and then recharges with sugar.  And once again he surprises everybody by putting 77 km on the odometer, whereas we thought he would stop at the 72nd km, but Serge wants to get over the 3km bump that brings him to the intersection in the village of Encinasola.
2 encounters today, of which one was serious: 2 Portuguese men at the Alqueva dam stopped to say hello in French and wish the team a bon voyage.  The second was an unusual encounter with a pig that crossed the road in front of Serge to go to the farm on the opposite site.  Normally, pigs are in fenced in fields.
René was called upon twice to get up on the van to hold on to the photographer, Philippe.  As for Jojo, it was sewing day; he repaired a tear in his pants.  On the Around Europe versatility is necessary.
At the border, at km 69, Serge plays at being the customs officer.  Clowning rhymes with return of energy it seems.  You devil Serge!
Tomorrow:  Jabugo – Aracena – on suit la N433

Town : Encinasola (Andalousie)

GPS : N°38.13927° W006.87889°