After the big storm, yesterday and today were exceptionally low tides. We had squalls yesterday so heading down to the beach was a risky business. But this morning was bright and sunny. And low tide was at about 11:30. It was the lowest we’ve experienced since being here.
Coastal erosion is a big problem around the globe and Portugal is no different. As icecaps and glaciers melt the sea levels are rising. There is real concerns for populations living near sea level. Especially those in beach towns and those residing on sandy sea cliffs vulnerable to chemical weathering like rain, wind and water – from above and below. This storm highlighted much of what our future holds as we walked down to survey the damage. It was surprising.
Instead of less sand it seems the storm has deposited more on our beach. In some places there are almost dunes against the cliffs. And the cliff where our house sits is on rock. Yes, some of the rocks and sediments are now on the beach but it weathered the storm very well. I think our house is safe in our lifetime at 130+ feet above the beach.
The extremely low tide exposed just what’s under the sand on our beach. A lot of rock. Basalt rock like those in Ireland at the Giant’s Causeway. As it breaks apart it’s honeycomb design is visible. But in the ocean it is covered with sea weed, kelp and other sea life, like muscles. People were out in the rocks dressed in wetsuits and the like, gathering muscles in bags tied to their waists.
It also made for epic beach combing and my pockets were full heading home. Jeff said I sounded like a dancer as the shells and rocks I gathered clicked against each other walking back. The music of the ocean. Perhaps I’m part Mermaid. But I found the most amazing, intact scallop shell peeking out of the sand. Lovely. You can see the story of the life of this animal in the layers of the shell. Like rings on a tree. Jeff smiled when he saw it. ‘Its a Camino Shell’.
As we made our way down the beach the crowds started to come. For the first time since August the parking areas along the coast were filling up as people came down to fish and gather easy seafood for a Sunday lunch boiled in a pot with fresh butter and garlic. Yum.
We climbed the stairs on the cliff and walked home on the Estrada Atlantico – the beach road with views of the sea. This path and road runs the length of Portugal and there were cyclists with all their gear heading south. And plenty of what I would describe as pilgrims with their backpacks and staffs heading north with a hearty ‘Bom Dia’. A Perfect Sunday morning.