Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Transported Town and Solar Donkey

From the little town of Moura (38°08N; 7°27'W), where we appeared to be the only tourists, we visited the Alqueva Barragem ("reservoir," see last blog) up close and personal. The countryside is lovely, rolling hills carpeted with wildflowers of every color and hillsides of olive trees. The dam itself isn't huge, but the reservoir behind it is the largest in Europe. Much land was inundated in the process of filling the lake. The town of Luz was directly in the path of the rising water, so a whole new town was built and 300 townspeople moved to a higher spot. Rumblings were heard from several people we talked to that the new town just wasn't the same. A movie in the new museum brought tears to our eyes as stories were told of losing fruit trees, rose bushes and vegetable gardens to the lake. The old town and its surrounding forests were totally razed in anticipation of the filling of the reservoir. A reality check of what is really lost when waterways are changed and manipulated. (see photo of before, top, and after towns from the museum exhibits).

From the reservoir, we turned eastward and crossed into Spain and the province of Extremadura, the "extremely hard" land that produced so many of those extremely "hard" men, the conquistoadors. Jerez de los Caballeros (38°19') was the birthpalce of Henan de Soto and Vasco Nunez de Balboa. We circled south and back into Portugal to see the world's largest solar generating array not too far from Moura (38°12'N; 7°14'W). Each of the panel groups had 92 panels. Of course, this is a central utility approach; it makes so much sense to put them on every household and business roof. Maybe someday we'll get there, but right now, Portugal is a leader. Beside the solar facility we photographed our "solar donkey," a donkey cart driven by father and son with a load of hay. We have been amazed at how many storks are nesting on telephone poles and chimney tops all over this countryside. Next, Espana!


  1. Welcome in Europe!!! When are you arriving in Athens GR? Best Regards Zeus of Athens

  2. Fascinating blogs, & your pictures are turning out very well. Amazing that you are able to produce all this while traveling. ... Loved the solar donkey picture (not your local means of transportation, I hope!!)