One of the main roads where I live has around 300 bends before you get to the nearest town, as well as swinging left and right around these bends you are also travelling up and down hills.
Dear reader it was built by hand for donkeys to transport goods. So if you are going at that speed it really is quite a beautiful journey, a feast for the eyes, made up of a mixture of cork forests, small farms and hamlets, sheep, goats and buzzards, azure winged magpies and bee eaters. If, however you don’t happen to have a donkey as your mode of transport, you will be travelling faster and there are some hazards which are harder to avoid at faster-than-donkey-speed.
So I have compiled some useful tips for coping with these roads and the obstacles you may perhaps have to overcome..
Tips for driving in the Alentejo (this is very rural Portugal)
Identified Hazard 1. There’s a lorry coming towards me!
Don’t immediately worry if you see a lorry lurching towards you on your side of the road. They are probably just avoiding the potholes and will return to the correct side of the road before hitting you. Yes we have potholes big enough for articulated lorry drivers to worry about on these roads. Respect.
Identified Hazard 2. Potholes.
Do worry about the potholes in the road that are large enough for articulated lorry drivers to worry about. They will eat you.
Identified Hazard3. There’s a car coming towards me!
If the vehicle coming towards you is a battered diesel pickup, you probably should worry. It may well be an elderly Alentejano farmer who even whilst sitting on 3 cushions still cannot really see over the steering wheel, because they are still too short. In this case they cannot see you and probably can’t hear you over the noise of their own engine, until the last minute.
If that driver is me you can rest assured I am avoiding a particularly bad pothole and I will shortly swing back to the proper side of the road in time, whilst giving you a ‘thankyou for understanding’ wave.
Well, unless I’m actually distracted by spotting a bird of prey or a stork or something else on this beautiful day in the countryside with barely another vehicle in sight. Whoops. Sorry.
Always assume the other drivers on the road are crazy, blind or otherwise not in control, slow down for other drivers, bends and potholes and you will be fine (okay should be fine).
Or you could walk.
Or you could just stay in.