The ‘Hang loose’ or ‘Shaka’ sign is one that is handed out freely amongst all in the surfing community. It has a multitude of meanings, thanks; cool; yeah; hello and goodbye. The most authentic of meanings being that of where the gesture originated, Hawaii. Hawaiian people say that it’s a sign of Aloha (Appreciation and Love).
This last description or meaning explains in its entirety the part of our journey I’ll be telling you all about…
We ended off our volunteering projects in Tabua Portugal with a couple of our very close and dear friends, Will and Kitty. The finish was a leisurely 4-hour canoe and kayak trip down the Mondego River. A fantastic day and an experience that we are not likely to forget.
The following morning however was a whole different story. I woke up with my left arm in excruciating pain and barely able to move. My old shoulder injury had reared its ugly head once again and with a vengeance. Thanks to our awesome friends Paula and Stu, and an arsenal of really strong painkillers, I was able to pack up our belongings, wash the caravan and car and prep for the next leg of our epic journey. Destination – AllSwell SUP Surf Family Farm in Aljezur, Portugal.
We hitched up the next morning and as with everything we do, the proposed 08h30 departure time ended up being 10h00 but it meant we had ample time to say farewell to Paula and Stu. 10h00 and we hit the road on our 367 mile (468km) trek. My shoulder no better, was definitely going to be a problem. On arrival we received a very, warm welcome, a 6 pack of Sagres popped in my hand followed by a full tour of the house and rental apartments.We were given our space to set up our caravan while Monique went of to grab their kids Noah and Cato from school. We were halfway through when little Cato came to introduce herself to us and handed a really pretty drawing to Karen as a hello gift. Noah introduced himself to the boys and they were all playing football in no time at all.
Caravan set up and all in the correct place, we were whisked off to the local restaurant where we had our first meal together and a sneaky glance at the Ajax vs Tottenham game. Tottenham, sadly for our Dutch hosts, making a last minute comeback and winning on away goals. 4 hours in and we already felt like family, sharing the commissary over numerous shots of Medronho. The next morning, as with all to follow, we were greeted by Gordon and 2 freshly brewed cups of coffee to sit and discuss the day’s tasks. Day one was going to be murder on my shoulder as the first task was to collect all the felled trees and branches on the property for a final burn of the season. All I really wanted to do was prove that we were there to help and work and there was no way I would be able to give any indication of my true worth but I gave it my best one armed attempt and with loads of help from Karen and the kids we did it. Every scrap of wood, every branch, collected and burned.
What a day…We washed up and joined everyone at the table for dinner. We had time to chat about ourselves and it turned out that I really couldn’t have chosen a better place to have a shoulder injury. Gordon was a physiotherapist for the Dutch Olympic skiing and snowboarding team.
A couple of days in and I was on the mend, sadly not enough to surf but definitely enough to get into the water with Ella and the boys and along with Gordon and Monique’s help had them all out learning to surf in no time. Noah and Cato (8 and 6 years old) showing off their surfing skills and giving our bunch loads of confidence out on the water.
In the days to come we worked hard and played hard. We tended to the goats…surfed. Collected rocks…surfed. Put up a pool…surfed. Built a new goat enclosure and surfed again.
While there, we celebrated Karen’s birthday with a day trip to Lagos, visited local markets and explored every bit of surf we could find. Arrifana by far being our favourite. Not having surfed in close on 17 years I was dying to give it a go but when the time came I just couldn’t pop up, so not this time round.
The days went by seamlessly and with each day we grew closer as friends but sadly our time with the Alexander family had come to an end. While with them we were shown every bit of love and appreciation you could ever imagine. We had not only made some new and wonderful friends but added to our travelling family.