Monthly Archives: April 2015

Nautical times

Some days after my stitches were removed, I teamed up with Alexandru from Moldova, to visit  the so called Ilha Deserta. We took the ferry to this Island, which comprises the most Southern tip of Portugal, and it was fantastic: The sun was shining, the sand was white and the sea was crystal clear. And even though the water was freezing, it was wonderfully invigorating to swim in. Alexandru had brought snorkeling gear and a video camera and soon he was laying head down in the water, whereby he  much resembled a beached whale, while filming a tiny hermit crab that he had found. He was sputtering in Moldovan to add much needed commentary to his footage. Not very National Geographic, but quite entertaining.

ferry_ilha_deserta

In case of shipwreck this life buoy can be a life saver. Unfortunately, there were only two on board.

I know. I need to work on my tan...

I know. I need to work on my tan…

For obvious reasons I have had a lot of time on my hands and hence I have resorted to some intellectual pursuits, which were greatly facilitated by the FNAC in the shopping centre, selling Wordsworth classics for 3.90 euro, and so enabling me to stock up on English literature.

In regard to the bucket lists, it would perhaps be a good idea to make separate lists for intellectual endeavours like reading books and seeing movies (where there is no need for travel) and others like seeing art in museums and architecture (that do necessitate travel).

James Joyce – Ulysses
Reading this notoriously difficult novel was an ambition I have cherished for some time and I have already gone through several aborted attempts. Even now, I must admit, I leafed through some sections that I felt were completely bonkers, but I think I’ve read enough to tick this one off.

Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness & Other Stories
Maybe the most nautical author in English literature.

And, very appropriate in the light of my recent boat trip to desert island, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The original title was: The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates. A title which, I feel, gives away the plot.

 

Advertisements

Bucket lists and botany

Five days after my knee surgery, I rode on my bicycle back to the hospital. Doctor Pessoa told me the stitches had to remain there for another three days, otherwise ‘everything will come out of your knee‘, This seemed undesirable, and so, yesterday, I took my bicycle out to the hospital again, but there must have been some misunderstanding because the doctor wasn’t there and the nurses maintained that I had to come back next Monday as it was too early for the stitches to be removed. After consultation with another doctor, I condoned,  and so I have to wait another four more days…

Colourful mural in Faro

Colourful mural in Faro

Meanwhile, my knees feel good and therefore I have high hopes of continuing my cycling trip soon, although at a slower pace than before and not being altogether sure as to it’s destination. At the very least I want to make it as far as Gibraltar, which is mostly flat terrain and seems for that reason quite feasible. After that I will reevaluate my experiences and decide if I want to carry on travelling in this way or revert to a more conventional mode of travel.
Up to now, my journey hasn’t come up to expectations and if I look at my experiences so far, I have to acknowledge they rather pale in comparison with those from my previous exploits. Riding a bicycle through the rain, while dodging heavy traffic, doesn’t compare very well to trekking to the Everest Base Camp, nor does having knee surgery in Portugal compare favorably to snorkeling with whalesharks in the tropical waters off Mozambique…

It is for the above reason that I’ve started contemplating alternatives for bicycle touring and putting together a bucket list of things to see or accomplish during my future travels. This last objective was not as easy as I thought it would be, because some entries would be rather ambitious if not extremely expensive. Some items I thought it might include:
– Snorkeling with Scarlett Johansson, whales or dolphins.
– Climbing, or witnessing from up close, an acitve volcano.
– Observing the Holi festival in India.
This list is very much a work in progress, so any suggestions to expand it are welcome.

azul

Decoration in Igreja do Pedro in which some ugly woman pulls a rope. The scene is puzzling me.

The ubiquitous orange trees in the city have blossomed and to my surprise the smell was very much like the smell of jasmine which I always find noticeable because they remind me instantly of the fragrant temples of Bagan and the fond memories I have of traveling in that area.

Next to the hostel stands a fig tree and recently it has started to regrow its leaves. More remarkably, It’s laden with figs and I am told they will soon be ripe. Trees bearing fruit in the spring is new to me, though there is a biblical reference to this fact (which you may feel free to google).

Up and running

The knee surgery went very well and I am up and running again. The whole affair was more complicated then I expected and involved general anesthesia, which was a first for me. In the morning I took a bus to the hospital and after some administrative procedures, I was shown ‘my room’. In there I was to take a shower and shave the area around my right knee. After that I changed into a hospital gown. A nurse pushed me in a wheelchair to a  room where I underwent some examination. Being propelled in this fashion felt particularly strange to  me, because I was still perfectly able to walk by myself at that point… Back in my room I noticed it was raining outside.

hopital selfie

Hospital selfie

Of the operation itself I was, thanks to modern anaesthetics, blissfully unaware. After I awoke I shivered uncontrollably for some time,  which was, as I found out later, due to the anesthetic inhibiting my body’s thermoregulatory capability. The knee itself felt good though, if slightly uncomfortable. After moving it around carefully, that felt better as well.
When I was back in my room, the doctor visited me and congratulated me on the successful operation. The knee was better than he had anticipated based on the MRI scan, and he assured me I could continue my cycling trip to South Africa, if so I wished…

Although I was free to go back to my hostel, I decided to stay in the hospital for the night as it was already past eight o’clock and I was still bandaged and dressed in my unfashionable hospital gown. It seemed unwise to go scurrying around on crutches in Faro at night.  When two nurses told me independently that they thought it was better for me to stay in the hospital and still feeling very tired and insecure on my feet, I thought it best to accept the offer.

Next morning I walked around with growing confidence and left the hospital in the morning. At the reception  I asked for the bus stop, but when I found out that a taxi would only cost  me 8 euro, I decided to indulge in this luxury…

That afernoon I was sitting in the sunshine on the rooftop terrace, sipping a glass of wine.
Up and running…

knee1

Knee post operation

bed_hospital

Accommodation in the hospital

 

The Ultimate Guide to Budget Travel

Tip 1

Find a midsized town with an agreeable climate and look for a cheap hostel with a fully equiped kitchen, free breakfast and free wifi. Prepare your own food everyday with a bottle of cheap Vino Tinto thrown in every now and then. Budget around 15 euro per day. For keeping up appearances: pretend you hurt  your knees or something ridiculous.

More tips coming soon in my new bestselling blog: The Ultimate Guide to Budget Travel…

Arthroscopy Now

The horror, the horror.

Arthroscopy

In his office on the ground floor of the hospital, Dr Fernando Pessoa had another look at my knees. We discussed  the progress of my medical condition in the last couple of weeks and he told me he thought it would be best for me to have a knee arthroscopy. This is a small, minimal invasive surgery with a good chance of success and so we made an appointment for the next week.

After the operation I should expect to rest for another two to three weeks and so I am hopeful to continue my journey, after a short delay, by the end of April, It’s not entirely sure if I could do so by bicycle, although the doctor seemed quite optimistic.

I have to wait…

After failing to spot a chameleon in the National Reserve, I was very surprised to see a gekko on the rooftop terrace of my hostel. I didn’t know of the existence of a Mediterranean gekko species, but a quick search showed that it’s common in all warmer parts of Europe…

The gekko hid in a small hole under the glass plate of the table I sat at and where it, quite unexpectedly, died.