Earlier this month me and Zé PauloÂ returned to theÂ International Tagus Natural Park (Tejo Internacional, in Portuguese), the protected area where Tagus river enters Portuguese territory.Â This time our aim was toÂ photograph some deer during rutÂ on a short weekend trip,Â and this time we broughtÂ Ruben with us. It was successful in many ways, spending time with friends in one of my favorite spots in the country is always a win-win situation, butÂ not photographically speaking, despite having a young stag jumping just ahead of us the opportunities to photograph them were few. That moderate success and aggravating weather conditions made us return home earlier than expected.
Early in theÂ morning, after the guys left, myÂ obvious choice would also beÂ driving home through the modern highways to arrive at lunch time, and spend the rest of thatÂ rainy Sunday comfortably watching a movie or doing any other lazy Sunday activity. Rapidly another idea formed inÂ my head: return slowly, using the old secondary roads, but not the traditional route to Lisbon used by people from that region for decades, that takes a big shortcut through the long, straight roads of Alentejo.
My plan for the rest of that day was slightly different, driveÂ along what that region had in common with my hometown:Â the river, as seen from the road.
The Tagus splitsÂ Portugal in two, flowing for 300Â Km in Portugal (its total length is 1000 Km) before its waters end their journeyÂ in the Atlantic ocean. Driving mostly the EN118, the road thatÂ follows it almost from the place where the itÂ enters this little rectangle shaped country to the place where it abandons it. In that distance, and despite it’s aÂ short distance, it passes through different perspectivesÂ of the country. The upper Tagus in the Beira Baixa region is made of rocky cliffs inÂ narrow valleys,Â perfect forÂ birds of prey to buildÂ their nests, one of the reasons the reasons, a relatively untamed area like many otherÂ of the border regions in the country. Then the lower Tagus region becomes a vast farming land, that also takes its name from the river: Ribatejo, often flooded by the same river that makes those lands the most fertile in the country before meeting the suburban cities of Greater Lisbon.