For the first time in months I can remove my jacket.
The touch of the sun is gentle and loving, like that of a lover’s. It is just a show she puts up for me since in a few short weeks she will be back to her old self, biting my pale Finnish skin hard, smugly leaving her marks all over. But not today. Today is the first day that I feel sunshine in months, and she lets me have this one.
We saunter along the marina, picking out oranges from the trees growing wild between office buildings and spitting out the pieces when they turned out to be bitter. Our words revolve around our heads in lazy circles. We chat about our lives and the world we still want to see in the same way than people talk when they are just setting foot on foreign ground for the first time. When we reach the beach, we take off our shoes and bury our toes in the cold sand. Anthony cracks open a beer. The water is cold enough to burn our feet, and we run away from it screaming and giggling.
Beach after beach go by as we tread on. It seems like a long way on the map, but on a day like today distance doesn’t matter. We’re walking on the side of a small highway as brightly coloured backpacker vans start passing us by. Marcela greets a passing shepherd in Portuguese, and his dog ignores my call.
Finally we reach the end of the road. We sit down on the edge of a cliff, the hum of the waves below the soundtrack to the sunset, and we set out our picnic of croissants, cheese and ham. The talk dies down slowly with the sinking sun; no words could ever take the place of a sight of a Portuguese sunset. The sun is just a blazing sphere now, and as it dips into the ocean, an army of oranges and yellows trail its last steps.
Marcela points to the sky behind our backs. Nestled in the vivid nocturnal purple we spot the full moon, bright enough to tell the different craters apart and rising fast. On our walk back it has to battle the glow of the coastal cities and a few wan stars.
There are certain reveries that a traveller often conjures up before a trip. Those are imaginations based on perfectly timed photographs and memories that the mind plays like an art film; dreams of what the road ahead can and will bring with it.
Today has been the kind of a day that I always imagined backpacking to be like.