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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A Mans Best Friend

Over the course of my rides I have met some wonderful people, but none so wonderful as the dog Ithat befriended me in Carvoeiro in Southern Portugal on the Algarve.

I had been having problems with the bike from Lagos and had eventually got to Portimao en route to Carvoeiro. I had been to this lovely quiet resort a couple of years ago with my daughter and knew all the bars, especially the English ones where I intended to watch the Liverpool game that evening.
Unfortunately the bike refused to go past Portimao and so I decided to push the bike the 12kms to Carvoeiro in the late afternoon sunshine. Pushing the bike was becoming the norm and I had already pushed previously 20 kms to Lagos.
I reached Carvoeiro shortly before kick off and was free wheeling it down the steepish hill towards the beach, when I realised that if I arrived at the bottom with nowhere to park it, I would have a steep hill to push it up aftrerwards. I spotted a place under a canopy which I thought would be an ideal place to sleep. I removed ny bag of personals and left my saddle bags and helmet with the bike and found the first bar with the game being shown.
Afterwards I thought I would check out the other English bars I knew, in case I needed assistance with the bike the next day. I spent the evening in one bar and eventually headed back for my nights sleep under the canopy which was next to a Portugese cafe bar, which wasn't open at the time I arrived.
I turned the corner by the beach to walk up the hill to where I had left my bike, when I found myself being followed by a stray dog. Now I am not a big dog lover, but I managed to have a converstion with this mongrel as I was walking along.
As I approached the darkness of the canopy, I could see that my panniers had been disturbed and a lot of my tools and equipment were lying on the paving.
I was relieved to see that nothing was missing from my tools but then realised my crash helmet was gone.
Blast. I had neve encountered any tampering with my belongings, in all the time I have been riding bikes, often leaving all my luggage on the bike in major cities even, while I have gone off for a whole day. I was so relieved I had taken my back pack or I would have been in serious trouble. A crash helmet I can cope with but my peronal effects or my tools especially would have been a nightmare in their absence.
I decided there was no alternative to bedding down there in spite of the insecure feeling I was having, so spread my sleeping bag out and nestled in.
I had forgotten about my new found four legged friend in the scrutiny of the situation but was reminded quickly as he settled down by my side for the night.
My first instinct was to shoe him away, until I quickly realised that he was my guarantee of a good nights sleep.
I quickly went to sleep and woke a couple of times to find him still there, sometimes just sitting up and watching the area. I had truly arrived at the homeless situation of a man and a dog in a doorway and laughed to myself at the thought of collecting money off passers by in the morning.
When I woke he was patrolling the front of the arcade area and it was daylight. The Portugese cafe was preparing to open, so I had a quick walk around the block to get the circulation going, alwys with the dog no more than two metres away.
I sat outside for my couple of coffees and toastie, the dog sat outside of the seating area aware of the boundaries of where he was allowed.
Unfortunately all my pictures are on another computer, except for this
After refreshing, myself and availing myself of the toilet facility, I decided to puch the bike down to the restaurant area next to the beach and enjoy a day by the water front.

I found an area to work and set about stripping the bike, which is guaranteed to draw an audience with the Portugese waiters especially. Everyone is an expert on mopeds and scooters in these parts. The dog sat patiently next to me all the while I fiddled with the electrics.
My little friend suddenly took a liking to another dog that was being walked by its owner and went off. It seemed a good time to go and have a beer so I slipped over to the Australian bar and got a beer, and sat myself down outside in the warm Portugese winter sunshine. I then noticed my friend return to the bike which was situated about fifty metres away. At first it sat down next to the bike, then began sniffing around and then having picked up my scent followed it across to the bar where I was sitting and parked himself down on the pavement again outside of the seating area of the bar.
He must have gone off for his own toilet at one time, but returned five minutes later and sat there.
Then a Portugese man came past on a scooter. He had to slow to make the turn near where I was working and my friend was up and at him, nearly causing the man to come off his bike while trying to kisk out at him. There was an argument between the two of them and I had to kick out at my friend for being so stupidly aggressive. He looked at me with a hurt indignant look then turned on another passing scooter. Again I fended him off and chased him away. He went with his tail between his legs and I thought had disappeared for good. It was while I was talking to a Portugese waiter who had brought me a spare old heelmet so I could continue that I realised he was no more than twenty metres away from me all the while. He was sat behind a wall just watching all that I was doing, all that time.
I got the bike going and he surfaced and came back to me and I half expected him to chase me when I rode off to test the bike, but no. Not a murmur. He sat and waited for my return from the short ride up the dtreet and back.
I loaded the bike said goodbye to the waiters and looked at the sad look in my friends eys and gave him a pat on the head and rode off.
I glanced around twenty or thirty metres along the road and saw him sat all alone watching me fade intoi the distance.
I always wonder what became of him.

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