09-Jun-2001 -- Saturday - It's raining! Unusual for this time of the year, and bang on the morning we had planned to attack our 3rd confluence, the one we had been looking forward to as a more interesting challenge. With the confluence around 150 kms away, we thought we'd go anyway as the rain was bound to have stopped by the time we got there….Besides this one is in the driest part of the country, it doesn’t rain there!
We arrive in the vicinity, it's still rainning and we start looking for the best way in from the asphalted road: the confluence is in the middle of a large triangle of land belonging to 3 estates, with cork trees, wheat and some cattle. We drive around this triangle inspecting the tracks we had identified on our military map. The first option, going in from the West, is out of the question, as it is too tough for our long suffering MPV. A narrow, technical and muddy track, we could have done it easily in our old 4x4 but we’re a responsible family now.
We find an access from the East, along a track which leads to one of the estates, from which we take another to the next homestead, where we find a now small trail down to some fields, and here we stop driving. It's still raining intermittently so Isabel and the girls picnic under the tailgate and play in the mud (our daughters' favourite country pastime after birdwatching). Paulo sets off on foot to the utter bewilderment of a farmworker in a pickup truck who wants to know if we're lost.
I don't think we managed to explain just how very "un-lost" we were, and why, but we did try. As we had done at each homestead where we asked for permission to have access: the only thing we're sure is clear to the people who are so unfailingly nice to us, is that they know we're mad but, fortunately, harmless. We even had one guy tell us to phone him if we got the car stuck so he could come out in his tractor and get us.
The confluence was finally reached after crossing waist high (wet) grassland, walking around a lot of cork trees and splashing through one streamlet. The good news was no cattle (this is where they breed the bulls for the fights!), the bad was that the rain got earnest, and the confluence was in the middle of a freshly ploughed and manured field… To cap it all, Paulo dropped and then stepped on his glasses while taking the photos! The soaking and the mud were such that, having forgotten spare clothes, he then had to drive home in his boxer shorts... Yes, folks we earned this confluence.