I had stayed in Lisbon for too long.
It was just that I had no inclination to cycle or to move about in any other way. I diagnosed it as possible travel fatigue.
In the kitchen I was talking to a German girl. She was half my age, and I tried to explain to her what travel fatigue was. Much to my surpise she recognised the condition and told me sympathetically that she had suffered the same affliction.
It was when I travelled in Thailand, she said. I got sick and tired of the sweating, ALL THE TIME, and the sun lotion, and the mosquito spray, it was sticky. It was just TOO MUCH.
How long were you travelling for? I asked her.
One month, she said.
Maybe you should have spent more time at the beach, I suggested.
We were staying at the beach, she said.
You were staying at the beach, I said, not reallly knowing how to respond. That, uhm… must have been hard…
Next day I packed my bags and left for the Algarve. The first bit was easy: I took the ferry to the other side of the river: no hard work involved and fine views of LIsbon. From there I headed south to Setúbal, an easy 30 km ride with a few hills. In Setúbal I took another ferry to the Tróia Peninsula, a long sand bar that consisted mainly of a nature reserve. In Comporta I cycled past rice plantations, a crop that was brought here by the Arabs in the 8th century. For some time after the Reconquista it was forbidden to grow rice, because the irrigation led to a proliferation of malaria mosquitoes, but in the 19th century the production had grown rapidly and malaria was rife. Today, the Portuguese consume three times more rice per person than the rest of the continent. Some Portuguese don’t like rice, but they are kindly asked to leave the country. Maybe they can live in Norway.
The following day I woke up and it was very cold. The cycling was easy that day and I passed a lot of cork oaks. In Portugal cork oaks cannot be legally cut down and they live up to 250 years, so if you find one in your garden, you just have to live with it.
In Vila Nova de Milfontes I found a campsite where I pitched my tent.
After breakfast the next morning, I decided to try to get toLagos in one day. It was going to be a long day, but I thought I could do it. The weather forecast for the day after was rain and I didn’t want to get wet again. There was an Italian guy who had cycled all over the Iberian peninsula and he said it was about a hundred kilometres. It was mainly flat, he said. His eyelids twitched and he fumbled with his beard. Some hills before Lagos, but mainly flat, he repeated. His eyelids twitched again.
It was not flat.
It was hard work and my opinion of Italian cyclists reached an all time low.
I was completely exhausted, but I made it before dark and the next morning I was listening to the rain in my cozy bed in a Lagos hostel.