Earlier this month me and Zé Paulo returned to the International Tagus Natural Park (Tejo Internacional, in Portuguese), the protected area where Tagus river enters Portuguese territory. This time our aim was to photograph some deer during rut on a short weekend trip, and this time we brought 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, but 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 the morning, after the guys left, my obvious choice would also be driving home through the modern highways to arrive at lunch time, and spend the rest of that rainy Sunday comfortably watching a movie or doing any other lazy Sunday activity. Rapidly another idea formed in 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.
The Tagus splits Portugal in two, flowing for 300 Km in Portugal (its total length is 1000 Km) before its waters end their journey in the Atlantic ocean. Driving mostly the EN118, the road that follows it almost from the place where the it enters this little rectangle shaped country to the place where it abandons it. In that distance, and despite it’s a short distance, it passes through different perspectives of the country. The upper Tagus in the Beira Baixa region is made of rocky cliffs in narrow valleys, perfect for birds of prey to build their nests, one of the reasons the reasons, a relatively untamed area like many other 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.