Two countries, just a river apart. The Guadiana River marks the border between Spain and Portugal along this stretch. I stand on the bank, my feet in the Spanish region of Extremadura, across the water lies the Portuguese Alentejo.
Borders. Those simple lines traced randomly upon a map, invisible in some cases, heavily marked in others. Barriers marking two territories, so close together, yet life can be so very different on either side.
I feel lucky to have been able to experience many wonderful things on either side of this border, to have been able to explore such incredible places with such ease.
Other than the river there is no visible limit. One country merges into the other with no evident clues in the landscape to indicate the change of country.
As we bump along the track, we catch a glimpse of some grey herons swooping over the water. We stop the car to watch a few bee-eaters take flight and settle in a nearby tree.
A burst of laughter follows my inability to capture any of these wonders with my lens while the car stops and stars quite comically as each bird is sighted.
Perhaps this is neither the best time nor the best way to birdwatch.
The dirt track winds in and out following the river then turns inwards through golden fields, offering a glimpse of the river every now and then. It’s such a peaceful afternoon, silent in the summer heat as we drive back toward the tarmac.
Portugal can be seen in the distance as we join the main road. The Jurumenha castle never far out of shot.
We head for coffee at the Villareal dock. As we sip our ice drinks in the shade, the boats gently resting by the jetty bob up and down with the slight current and a few bathers take a swim to escape the heat.
We dip our toes in the water but the lack of shade sends us quickly back to find it and I forget to add a few photos to the collection from down on the jetty. Memories are sometimes better than a bunch of snaps, though.
This place, this river, brings many happy times to mind. I smile when I think of this border. But, at the same time, I can’t help but think on the changing roles borders currently hold throughout Europe and the world. More on that on another day, though, maybe.