The Portugesse Outback

The forecast was rain. Head for the hills.  Our ride a post World War Two all terrain vehicle.  Manual wheel locks and a clearance that on initial alighting appeared excessive.  A few minutes outside of downtown Albufeira and all that overkill was more than necessary.  Yes it rained last night and dry river beds were puddled.  The red dust slaked into a slick clay.  We headed for the hills to explore the back roads (dirt tracks might be more accurate) wandering between small towns, orange groves and Aloe-Vera.

On one peak the remnants of a partially accessible Paderne castle.  Closed to the public by some technical restriction of the EU.  The castle perched on the peak of the mountain has a perfect 360 view of the valleys below.  A medieval bridge  in the valley below joins the switch-back road that climb to the mountain top.

Oranges on trees.  Rows of trees ripening the juiciest of fruit for the tables of the world.  The rows and access roads an indicator of scale and size.  This was not a few trees.  This was a verdant garden nestled in a valley of nurture.

Across the valley, bee hives. In a civilization where bees are becoming scarce, endangered might be a better word, the nestled hives are a welcome home.  Each hive home to 60-90,000 bees ready to pollinate the orange groves.  Heading to the outback opens our eyes.  These bees, almost extinct, may be the end of orange-juice as we know it.


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