Dolphin dreaming

Trip Start Nov 09, 2007
1
75
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Trip End Feb 03, 2008


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Friday, January 18, 2008

When we had been on our boat trip the previous day we had noticed an operator called Dolphin Seafaris (I know, bad pun). They promised us a 'big red boat' and a very good chance of seeing dolphins. We decided then and there to do the trip today.
I was prince charming today, dashing down the stairs to bring back croissants and coffee. My plans were foiled when the croissants I bought were terrible, those bready kind that are often available here in Portugal. 'Get back downstairs and buy me some proper ones' Jess said to me (not really, I made this decision completely unprompted, I promise).
Because the dolphin trip was not scheduled until 1:30 we had time to wander the streets again, taking in some coffee in the square and Jess bought a pair of Portuguese shoes - a light open weave shoe that would be perfect for Thailand and summer back at home.
We went down to the marina at the appointed time and boarded the 'big red boat'. They told us it was a RIB - a Rigid Inflatable Boat that could go up to 50 knots and we would be cruising at around 40 knots. Very fast for a boat of this size. The two guys running the show were comedians, telling us the range of different ways we could end up being thrown overboard if we didn't obey the rules.
Georgie and I took a seat right at the front of the boat where we were told we would be in for a bumpy ride. 'If you like rollercoasters, take this seat' Simon said. Well always up for a bit of excitement, Georgie and I were not fazed. Maggie and Jess, on hearing about the bumpy ride opted to take a seat a little further back, but still in the front part of the boat.
We journeyed slowly up the river and when we hit the open water they put their foot down and we took off like a rocket. It was a fantastic exhilarating ride. Who cared if we didn't see any dolphins? Out we went, further and further from the shore. I looked back, holding on to my glasses as I had been advised. We had lost sight of land by this time so I figured we were quite a long way out. After about 30 minutes of racing straight off shore we turned left and started to go a little slower. We had reached the edge of the continental shelf where dolphins abound because the feeding is good there. All this I was to learn later. For now I was on the lookout for dolphins.
No dolphins could be seen. On we went, searching, ever searching. We had been told to watch out for birds, as this was often a sign. Well I saw lots of birds, but no dolphins. All of a sudden the boat came to a stop and there, just in front of us, three dolphins broke the surface of the water. We all let out a cheer and an 'ohh' at once and got our cameras ready.
The dolphins (common dolphins we were told) did the right thing by us and swam about the side of the boat, playing in the bow wave of our boat and generally putting on a display for us. After half an hour or so it was time to head back to shore so we waved goodbye to the dolphins and began our Miami Vice-style return to the shore.
When we finally made it back we were windswept but exhilarated at the same time. Our encounter with the dolphins was a lot of fun.
We all agreed that as the sun was still out and it was warm we would go and check out the long beach here in Lagos, the Meia Praia. This beach is 10km long but we only explored the western end. The girls found a beautiful starfish playing at the edge of the waves and Jess and I cuddled in the warm sun as we watched on.
It was quite a long walk back to town so I promised Jess a glass of red wine and some hot chips when we got back to the marina. We found a place called Lazy Jacks where they had pies that were almost like Australian pies. Woohoo. We had one, promising ourselves that we were trying out a fancy restaurant for dinner. One glass of red wine later the pie was demolished and we decided to hell with the fancy restaurant we would chill out at Lazy Jacks instead.
After this sumptuous feast we rolled home and packed our bags, ready to head for Porto tomorrow.
Just as we were settling in for the night we heard singing out in the laneway. We hurried out onto the veranda to find most of the townsfolk gathered in a procession along the laneways of the town, bearing an icon. They were singing a hymn in Portuguese, led by a priest with a portable loudspeaker. It was great to see the traditions being kept even here where the influx of British expats must put a lot of pressure on local traditions.
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