Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In the Lagoon of Reduced Circumstances

2011 09 21
Off the Isle of Culahtra (Culatra), Olhao, Portugal
 37  00     N
007 50.60 W
Constantly We are Surrounded by Friends and Well Wishers
Wish We had a Net 

The second day after we anchored behind the island of Culahtra we received this email from a friend who had visited this much ballyhooed location a few weeks before us:

Lots of current from the river, unattractive scenery (this is my opinion - except perhaps those German men....no on second thought, ugh) and not very nice people - either driving boats or serving in the restaurants. 
Perhaps for the Europeans who have never gone to the Carib, this place is a little different and somehow appealing . How lovely, no ancient forts, nor Moorish castles or centuries old cultures; boring after you have lived it for so long. Just give them a change of scenery within their world, beige sand beaches, ramshackle concrete building (with doors so small only children and tiny hobbits can enter) and some fish restaurants with high prices/rude waiters and voila they are in a new world - or at least a different place then what they are used to. 

A Hobbit Hut?

The author can be forgiven some of her harsh criticism when you realize while at Culahtra a boat near hers dragged in the currents.  The very next day she witnessed a powerboater drive over a swimmer turning him to hamburger.

Admittedly after our arrival we wondered what stimulated all the buzz amongst the Euro cruisers about Culahtra.  Other than the exotically odd spelling of course.

If you want good sand dunes go to Ipperwash or Port Franks in Ontario.   If you want service or friendly service do not come  to anywhere in Portugal, especially Culahtra.  So why visit Culahtra at all?  Two reasons and one of them is not because you haven't been warned off yet.

 Culahtra has a kick ass beach on its Atlantic side with great surf and good shelling.  You get here by walking a mile long catwalk installed to protect the fragile sand dune ecology.  

Part of the beach is a nude beach. Not knowing this we were interested indeed in one German couple who were not only forthcoming in their nakedness but quite libidinous in the presentation of their respective attributes. 

The beach is but thin offering beside the real gem of the island of Culahtra: the Lagoon of Reduced Circumstances (regards to Alexander McCall Smith).   At the far north east of the island there is a drying lagoon.  You can walk across the lagoon at low tide if you don't mind finding yourself kneedeep in stinking oozing critter filled mud.

This guy is keel deep in mud - picture taken at half tide.
Look at the ladder.
Here, kneedeep in the stinking oozing critter filled mud of the lagoon you find a community of down on their luck Germans and Brits living on boats that have clearly not moved for months or years, or in the case of the more interesting specimans not since the Deluge.   

It is a boating trailer park.

Every one of these boats, (I don"t know what else to call them.) is lived on full time.  These guys live in the mud.  At low tide you can walk to every one of them.  In the black stinking oozing slithery critter filled mud.  I am not sure how they get water on board but from the looks of them many of them don't need or use much.  

This mess is lived in by guys who just
drove their boats up onto the sand
John Steinbeck would love them.

Another expat community  living on the cheap and waiting to die in an obscure and uninteresting destination. 

And we used to make sport of Vero Beach cruisers.  At least they have colour TV.  And showers.  

Tomorrow we leave for the Guardiana River, border between Portugal and Spain and after that we are off to the Guadalquivir and Seville. Our sailing will take us to Gibraltar and we end up in Almeria where we leave the boat for a Christmas return to Canada.

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