when in portugal

If you turn left at the bottom of the hill you walk just a short ways before hitting a patch of dirt road completely submerged in brown, opaque water that smells like a cow pasture. Beyond that: paradise. One of the few truly shaded extended pathways; wild, jungly, running along the river stream, and under the aqueduct. It's often my after lunch walk of choice with the dog on a hot day, if I can manage to stomach that murk. The cork trucks passing by have made it even more difficult but after two scorchingly hot days in a row I decided again to give it a go in hopes it had dried a bit. Not two steps in I sank one foot in almost to my knees, sandal ripped off, literally submerged in the warmest and worst feeling. The next step I took was with the other foot with the same results. Ishtar has meanwhile bounded effortlessly past, I stuck my hands in, retrieved my shoes, proceeded barefoot, squishing and reeking. My plan was to find a nearby path into the fresh stream water, rinse off and regroup. Not five minutes later, Ishtar hears something. She begins growling and barking, hair on her back standing on end. Alas, one of men of the cork, a taker, is walking along the path alone, axe and ladder in hand, very obviously afraid of dogs, even more obviously stunned by the appearance of yours truly. We exchanged something only equivalent to grunts and sounds, I manage to re-leash the dog, the taker has backed himself halfway up the hill adjacent to the path, we manage a polite "boa tarde!" as I am dragging this ferocious seeming pitbull out of harm's way, barefoot over sharp rocks and thorny silva. We walked a short bit but eventually turned back, I realized the obviousness of still having to traverse this cesspool again even if I managed to clean myself off, so I just went for round two into that abyss, no better than the first. We continued along further, me still sans shoes, finally reaching what I now call The Boar Stream, I cleaned my feet, legs, and arms, dislodged the thorns, and leaned back on the rocks while Ishtar continued her now three days long attempt to conquest a submerged tree limb. Soon enough we'd be interrupted again, a different Taker, no less surprised, slightly more amused. We re-leashed again, another "boa tarde!", and wandered back to the house to clean myself off with the garden hose. Another afternoon in Portugal.