1st November 2020
Sanlucar de Guadiana, Spain – Alcoutim, Portugal
In a Nomadic lifestyle you’d think that it would be difficult to join a community. Communities are usually focussed around a geographic location with those who a fixed there, the leaders of the community. Ruffian is never fixed and being part of a community of difficult so it’s been amazing to feel connected to the global OCC community, the ‘Red Duster’ community of Portugal and the local communities of Alcoutim and Sanlucar.
From our mooring in Sanlucar, Spain we took the dinghy across the river to Alcoutim, Portugal. As we stepped foot into Alcoutim we were instantly welcomed into the local floating and dirt dwelling community. Within seconds we’d been added to the WhatsApp group, invited on the Wednesday morning hike, given the lowdown about the local facilities and been given recommended walking routes. Suddenly the Guadiana Glue of which we’d heard stuck people in the Rio Guadiana seemed very sticky indeed.
Taking the communities advice, we headed into the hills for a full day of hiking. Scaling the hills, the river stretched off into the distance and the faraway peaks made their presence known. We knew we were off the beaten track as little snakes slithered out of our way, signs of wild boar littered the undergrowth, and much to Fiona’s worry, large padded footprints criss-crossed around us. Could this be one of the fabled Iberian Lynx that roam this landscape?
We’d been given a top tip about a lunchtime riverside oasis, where water babbled, cooled the unrelenting sun and would give respite to hot and tired feet. Losing hope about this fable as we trudged through a barren landscape, where only Aloe Vera plants could survive, our hearts suddenly lifted. Far below us a river flowed magically out of hillside, flat rocks warmed in the sun would let us rest our weary bodies and the water was as welcoming as those people we found in Alcoutim.
The Alcoutim local community wasn’t just full of great local advice they were also connected on an international scale. Although Ruffian was moored in Spain we’d been hiking in Portugal and Spain was about to go into a new 2-week lockdown. If we didn’t relocate then the Garda wouldn’t let us move. We, like the rest of Atlantic Spain, would be stuck with nowhere to go and no-one to play with. The middle of the river was in both jurisdictions, so up went both the Spanish and Portuguese courtesy flags and down went the anchor.
The second community we were connected with has been growing steadily as we have cruised down the Spanish and Portuguese coast. That is our little community of friends, who like us are negotiating Covid while trying to get away from winter. The difference in this community meet up was that Favorita were without boat, had hired a car and were embarking on an epic Portuguese road trip and we were the no 1 stop of that road trip.
The final community that we have been linked to simply covers the globe. It has no centre and the members have no home, there is only 1 stipulation for membership and that is to have an adventurous spirit where that spirit has roamed the oceans. The community is the OCC.
In a different age, on a different boat, on a different ocean, we’d met an OCC boat called Peregrinus. Since we’d last seen them, they’d covered 1000’s of miles from the cold climes of the north Atlantic to the hot climes of the Mediterranean. They’d taken their boat from capitols of ancient empires in Greece to capitols of commerce in England and now they were on their way home to Miami.
It was like we’d never been apart. Francisco wowed us with his knowledge of history and we were in awe of Odette as she described how she’s navigated her way around visa’s, Schengen and authorities as flaky as Macedonia and as rigid as England. Our meeting again just showed that you don’t have to be together to be part of a common community.
With the local community advising us of local lockdowns, our mobile community skirting the municipalities regulations and the OCC community having a bigger view of the Covid situation our movements are still up in the air. We do know one thing however. Wherever we end up we’ll not be far from a supportive community.
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