Days at the beach!
Our school year began with a special time at the coast near Milfontes where we said hello to the new faces and to the coming 10 months we would have together. Our school year ended with a journey into the mountains – into the beautiful Serra de Estrela.
From the primary to the youth group to the teachers and school caretakers – 25 people in total – we caravanned from the Alentejo to the northeast of Lisbon near the boarder of Spain. After arriving in the late afternoon we pitched our tents and settled in for our first camping meal together. That first night we were lulled to sleep by the nearby river where water from the recent rains flowing over smooth stones.
The next morning the sun greeted us as well as the tall landscape around us. We started the day with a playfulness and games and before the morning stretched too far we were already out of camp with our day bags packed. After stopping in the small town of Verdelhos to fill up our bottles with fresh mountain spring water we ventured up the valley to a beautiful spot on the river where we could swim, play and jump into the fresh water. The younger ones stayed on at this place for some time longer while the older ones continued on up the valley, wanting to reach the mountain top. After 4 hours of hiking up the narrow trails, across forest and rock fields, with humorous and insightful talks, we reached the summit. Our satisfying view over the green landscape below was accompanied by strong winds and a setting sun. On the way down we climbed on each other’s shoulders to harvest tall, abundant cherry trees. Needless to say, we slept very well that night.
The next two days were devoted to rock climbing in remote areas of the mountains.. Climbing, we found out, is much more than scaling up a rock face and it is surely not an individual activity. Rock climbing has very much to do with the whole group. Each took turn belaying the other and- quite literally- entrusting one’s life in the hands of another. Yuri said that for him one of the highlights of the trip was feeling the trust another youth gave to him as he secured the rope that kept him from falling. Each time someone reached the top of the 25-meter cliff the whole group celebrated with cheers and applause from below. It was a real community day.
We ended each day with sharing circles and games into the night. By the end of our time together one could feel how our school gained social substance and friendship amongst all. After another long day of travel we arrived safely back home in the Alentejo, filled up with many new impressions and delightfully tired. We are both happy and sad to see our oldest ones go off into the next chapter of their lives. We are happy to have had this time together with them. And to all the rest, we look forward to seeing each of you next year.
Thank you for this possibility. Thank you for the full, insightful and moving last school year.