I find myself in front of a Catholic sanctuary on top of a hill, not exactly sure about what I should do.
I cycled under the hot sun and climbed the hills that lead to Loulé a day too early and I don't have a place where to stay.
The local LIDL gave me food, the trees nearby gave me free bitter oranges, I just went to the toilet and all I miss is a place where to crash while waiting for tomorrow and my CS host.
I share some food with a peddler and finally find the courage to ask.
I get in the sanctuary and tell the man inside if he's the boss of the place, like the girl by the church said.
I ask him if I can camp by the church and he tells me there is no problem.
He tells me that at midnight he'll park nearby my tent the Banco Alimentar truck that is currently at LIDL. As I thank him and ask him how can I help him, he smiles and tells me that anyone can help, and not to worry; I catch his drift and go back at LIDL to buy some food for the local food bank and help the volunteers talking to tourists about this project.
On my way back I steal some wifi and get CS hospitality approval from amazing Paula, she's OK with hosting me tonight, but she lives one hour cycling from there.
She's the kind of bruxa that cleans your soul with a smile and stops your anxieties with a shrug. An artist and a proper traveller - she gets me in a mood I missed, also thanks to her cozy house.
It feels like Home, and one day I'd like something like this I think, by the sea.
As we eat vegetarian and wine, she tells me to take it easy and that it would be smarter to slow down and spend more days in each place, doing things in a rush gets you confused. She is probably right, or righter than I'd ever be able to admit.
She gave me keys of her house, saying she trusts me and she treats hosts the way she'd like to be treated.
Next day swam for the first time during this adventure, the cold hug of the ocean revives my nightmares and I stay in the water just enough to be able to tell myself I did it.
Me and Paula have lunch and later in the afternoon I cycle back up in Loulé to meet Maria, the CS host that was kind enough to accept me.
She cooked me food and we talked about the regional differences between northern and southern portugueses (favorite sport of most people from Porto).
It shows she has been CS hosting a lot, and we share views on where this community is headed to.
Time to crash in this lovely mezzanine
Over and out,