A Friend in Figueira

This week Jono came to visit me in Figueira da Foz Portugal.

It’s good to have a friend here after 55 solo days on the road. I’ve met some interesting characters and I’ve enjoyed the solitude but there’s nothing like draining a few cans with an old mate from Dunedin.

A German we met shaping a fin outside his late granny’s Renault 4

Jono and I caught the bus across the Figueira da Foz harbour to surf Praia do Cabedelo. The first character we ran in to was German guy who had converted his late granny’s 1982 Renault 4 into a surf wagon complete with rooftop tent.

‘I don’t get much sleep up there when it’s windy,’ he said.

And it’s always windy in Portugal.

Hangman wettie

The surf was 1.5 times overhead.

And double overhead once I retreated. After a rock jump that seemed too perilous, I paddled out by the channel beside the jetty. After a few take off attempts I eventually got in a local’s way and we both fell off a wave. I was held under and decided to go in.

‘Oh you’ve cut your head,’ said the German back on the beach. ‘It’s only a scratch though.’


The local approached me and showed me his board. Two big cracks radiated from the rocker.

‘Oh man, did I hit your board?’

‘You were in the middle, you need to paddle to the side.’

‘I’m sorry man. But did I hit your board?’

‘If you’re in the middle it’s hard to take off.’ From what I could work out, in the crash he had damaged his own board. ‘Obrigado,’ he said and walked toward the car park.

I had kooked it.

Can you see him?
Can you see him?

Demoralized, I walked back to the jetty and gave Jono my board. My day was over but I enjoyed watching the locals show me how it’s done.

A local killing it
A local killing it – note the wee yacht in the background.

Jono wanted to buy shaving foam on the way home. He only had a five euro note and the pharmacy wanted ten. It turns out that you can get an old-school straight-razor shave in Portugal for four euro: make it two!

Jono was first under the knife
Don’t sneeze


Walking Around The World

This week I celebrated 50 days on the road.

This is a milestone, but nothing like Anna Harrington who after her walk across the states in support of her nephew decided to lug a hand-drawn cart around the world.

Why is Anna walking around the world?

Anna walked across the states in support of her her nephew who had a debilitating musculoskeletal disorder. Upon walking from Portland, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts Anna decided she hadn’t had enough, and would now embark on a seven year circumnavigation of the globe to raise awareness for clean drinking water.

‘Although sometimes at the end of the day I feel like throwing the cart into the sea.’

Anna and her hand drawn cart that she plans to lug around the world over the next seven years

I asked Anna where she got the idea for her hand cart and she said a friend of hers had one welded in Nicaragua, but to keep costs down in the states, Anna cut a bicycle in half and used the two wheels conjoined with a plastic tub in the middle. Anna plans to make a harness to lug the cart to relieve the stress on her neck and shoulders.

‘Like a sled-dog!’ I said, over my omelette at the Torreira bar where we met.

Anna has had trouble with her cart’s wheels.

Luckily, the people of Portugal are so hospitable that Ribapedal, in Samora Correia, donated parts and labour and Miguel at Tomazzini Bikes pitched in too when issues continued down the road. Miguel later surprised Anna at her campsite with new wheels – a testament to the generosity of the Portuguese people.

Anna and I had the same problem: we had to cross the Aveiro Lagoon by ferry rather than walk or cycle around the entire harbour. Anna warned me that she had difficulty, the normal ferry was down with mechanical issues and the police had eventually found a boat for her given that she was stranded with her cart.

I weighted this up in my mind.

Do I attempt a crossing or cycle the long way? Fuck it, let’s have a go I thought.

The bartender at the Torreira bar where Anna and I met assured me the ferry was running and he gave me the times for that day. I arrived at São Jacinto and asked a wonky-tied salesman about the ferry.

‘Ferry is mechanical,’ he said.

‘It’s broken?’


‘Ah, shit.’

‘Yes,’ he adjusted his tie. ‘Yes, shit.’

‘Are there other boats?’

‘Yes, but bikes not allowed.’


I went down to the ferry anyway. An old lady sat outside a bar, with the ubiquitous European espresso.

‘Ferry boat?’ I asked.

‘No bici,’ she pointed and shook her purple head of hair but indicated that one of the local fisherman may be persuaded to give me a ride.

I thanked her, ‘Obrigato,’ and went to try my luck with the pescadors. After some gesticulation to indicate my intention to cross, a Camel smoking captain gave me a lift across the lagoon.


At the other side, on the docks at Aveiro I pulled out my wallet and gestured How Much?

O capitão shook his head, smiled, lit another Camel and wished me Bon Voyage.