“Sitting on the top of the world“ / Serra do Bouro, Portugal (Day 197+)

Portugal, Serra do Bouro

I can’t believe it’s been almost 200 days since I came to Portugal. This has been my longest residency so far. I really love it, but it started to feel like my home already and I’ve lost the feeling of ‘temporary visit’, which is a key point in my research (the influence of the expatriation on artistic production). I’ve been on some artistic residences but I’ve usually stay from 2 weeks to a month or two, so I worked fast and finished with a exhibition or a project soon, but this time I have more time and I had a lot of time to think and brainstorm. I didn’t rush anything and I let myself be inspired spontaneously. It’s been a great experiment and probably a big influence in the future artistic production. My stay in Portugal isn’t over, but it is slowly getting to an end, so thinking about the past months is a great way for me to see my progress. The first part of my stay was a little bit hard, because I knew that this time I have more time and I shouldn’t rush anything, so I spent a lot of time relaxing and forcing myself to live slower and not stressing myself over deadlines. The beautiful Portuguese landscape and the ocean were a big help and now I feel more concentrated and focused on my future projects. Time is not my enemy anymore, even though I know there will be times when I will not sleep and work my a** off, but at least I will remember that everything is possible and after a big wave comes peace and a moment of silence. It’s important that you are aware of this, after that nothing is impossible.

Before I came to Portugal, I had a big fear of heights. Don’t get me wrong: I still have it, but I think I started to overcome it and now I feel I can climb on many different high things and look down. I feel my heart is beating fast but my mind is not telling me: “GO AWAY, GO DOWN, DON’T LOOK!!!” but instead it’s telling me: “Wow, the view is so beautiful!” It’s very important for me and I feel proud of myself. I’ve been told in the past weeks by some people: “Are you sure you want to climb on that cliff?” and I just did, even though it was high and dangerous. Of course I checked the situation before and assessed the safety, but if I liked the view I climbed on and enjoyed. So I recently had a dream that I am walking in the mountains and I told Urša, who was staying with me in the past days, that we should found a mountain and go. In the area where I live there are not a lot of high hills, but we managed to find the Mountain Montejunto a little more south and we drove to find my dream views. And we did.

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Driving towards the beautiful Montejunto Mountain over many small towns and villages, seeing the mountain in the distance.

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On our way we saw many beautiful vineyards. Many places to stop and enjoy the views.

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Don’t go always on the main roads: turn on random pathways and explore the hidden parts of beautiful landscape. Stop. Get on foot. And let the wind and the smell and the sun tell you the story.

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Goats judging us.

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Driving on the edge.

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Panoramic view of the road and the valley in the bottom.

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Montejunto Mountain, located between Cadaval and Alenquer councils, is the highest natural viewpoint of Estremadura region, rising 666m above the average sea level. Considered a highly valuable place in ecological and landscape terms, this mountain belongs to the Central Massif of Estremadura region and presents a geological structure with dozens of caves and grottos, as well as Pre-historic necropolis and fossils. It has also a very typical microclimate, characterized by the transition from maritime continental influence, providing it distinctive fauna and flora that are different from the surrounding ecosystems. The vegetable communities of wild chestnut trees, oak trees and pine trees deserve a special attention, as well as the 115 bird species already identified in the area. In this mountain, there are still many windmills across the landscape and some viewpoints offering wonderful views over the whole region.

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On the top we had a delicious smoothie (which we brought with us) and enjoyed the views, which were almost the same that in my dreams.

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Right on the top of the mountain there are ruins of an old monastery from the 12th century, where monks build tanks for water and made ice so they later transferred the ice to Lisbon. Old-school freezer.

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On our way down we also found some spots to chill and enjoy the views.

You can find many pathways to walk and rest, also many interesting historical spots and even an old road for monks where they transferred the ice to the valley. We met a lot of goats and shepherds, but no other tourists, so we had a lot of peaceful time. I guess in the summer (season peak) there are more people, maybe even crowds going up the mountain, but if you want to get the real peaceful experience I suggest you go before the touristic season starts. Make it the whole day trip and bring the food and water with you. There were no shops or restaurants on the top (which is what I prefer), so be prepared and enjoy the views. We saw some people going up with bicycles, so if you are in good condition you can go on a bike trip also.

It was a great ‘mountain adventure’ and something else for a change, since I’ve been hanging on the sand beaches all the time. I pumped up my batteries and felt like I’m sitting on the top of the world. Let’s just hope the feeling will last.

Until next adventure,

Valerie

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Multimedia artist from Slovenia.