• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 09

The Last Town Before The Frontier

The plane landed just after midday. The heat evaporated from the cement, smoke moving like belly dancers over the extended runway. As the passenger door opened the hot air blew in my face. From the airport, I took a taxi straight to the station.

The taxi driver was listening to the local radio which played soft ballads. He made friendly comments, proudly pointing to some unknown monument, we had just passed by. I nodded and smiled as if I understood.

The slow traffic suited me. It gave me time to think why had I come all this way.

The train arrived on time. It was heading north; not a popular destination for the millions of tourists that arrived in the country every year, like bees attracted by a summer garden. I sat by the window, watching the verdant landscape, embraced by the azure sky. The train cut woodlands and teared mountains; passing through small villages, embroidered by stony houses, emerging from the tops and sides of mountains, gentle smoke appearing out of their chimneys.

Occasionally, bursting watermelons popped out, between the woodland conifer trees. Sometimes, unexpectedly, the piercing eyes of the train gazed at the Atlantic Ocean, before it turned back towards the countryside. My heart raced with nostalgia. I wished my father could be here with me.

It was night when the train finally reached the last town before the frontier.

The sun was still burning over the terracota roofs. Dust made the air gritty like sand paper. The view reminded me of old sepia photographs. Beige, burnt sienna and copper splashed around the walls and small paths that run towards the castle ruins.


The Last Town Before The Frontier

There it was, his beloved homeland; exactly how he described it to me.
Like a past lover he left behind, he never stopped longing for this place.
I felt scared. What if I was not able to love this land like he did.

The town was quiet, but it didn’t matter; ghosts were still alive in my head.

After half an hour walking under the blazing sun, I approached the dilapidated stone house on the top of the hill, bathed by prehistoric shadows. Just like the ones I had seen from the train. The house stood still and smiled at me. “So, you came.” I heard her saying.

I carried the old key, since my father’s death. Standing in front of the oak door, my head filled with memories of warm loving afternoons. On the table hand made pasta, jars of green wine, freshly baked bread, and cooked vine tomatoes peeled one by one to make the old sauce recipe.

They all laughed, sang and danced until the end of night. When the early rising sun appeared over the ancient mountains, lighting up the ‘penedo’, they were still singing the folk songs they learned before they could talk.

Behind the oak door so many stories were told by the fireplace.
I felt a chill touching my chest as I slowly turned the key.