Last night we had the most delicious dinner in the Casa de Terena. Jose, who manages it, is a great cook. He specializes in slow cooking and makes me look forward to using the crockpot when we get home. Chicken, tomatoes, onions and potatoes slow cooked in a clear sauce - plus vegetables and pudding for dessert. The right amount and very tasty. Tonight it was beef with a hint of piri piri (chillies) - also excelletn. But I am etting ahead of myself.
I forgot to mention yesterday that when we drove into Terena, in the middle of the day, fireworks were going off. It was part of the fair - and there were more fireworks at bedtime and more this morning - marking the end of the fair. It is a strange thing to see fireworks in the middle of the day - but I think it is that the sound is more important than the display.
After breakfast Jose drove us to Monsaraz - another hilltop town with a castilo and a big church. Jose is about our age and was born in Mozambique - then a Portuguese colony. He was educated in South Africa and has a South African accent. He is very pleasant and runs the casa pretty much on his own. It is interesting to talk to him about the problems being faced by Portugal. How, when Portugal joined the EU, the small farmers were paid not to farm and the small fishers were paid not to fish. Their children were all educated and no longer have the tradition of farming and fishing - but now the pensions are being cutback and there is unemployment - so things are much worse than before.
A funny thing happened on the way to Monsaraz - we got lost. Suddenly we were in the wrong town - because we had been talking too much and he had missed the turn, The roads here are fairly narrow and windy and hilly and it is all olive goves, vineyards, grassy fields and white villages with orangey-red tile roofs - so it is easy to loose track of where you are.
We drove to the top of the Monsaraz and then our walk took us down the hill, through fields and groves, The main destinations were a "menir" (or prehistoric standing stone) and a cromeleque (prehistoric stone circle) - which were very interesting to see.
We ate some bread and cheese and banans near the first menir. At the end of the walk, we had to climb back up the steep cobblestone track to the village of Monsaraz.
Altogether we walked about 14.5 km with a steep climb at the end. We discovered that Mike's pedometer was calibrated incorrectly = about 25% less than the official length of the walk - so we actually walked a lot further on the 2 days at the quinta.
There is a big European soccer game on TV tonight and Jose has has gone to watch it with his friends - so all is quiet at the casa and it is nearly time for us to get to sleep.
BTW, if anyone is reading this blog, please do make a comment. It is nice to hear from people at home. Even though we are having a great time here in this incredibly beautiful, interesting and historical country, we do miss you. Good night from Terena in the Alentejo of eastern Portugal.